Australia v England: Jason Roy hits record 180 in five-wicket victory
|First ODI, Melbourne|
|Australia 304-8 (50.0 overs): Finch 107, Stoinis 60, M Marsh 50; Plunkett 3-71|
|England 308-5 (48.5 overs): Roy 180, Root 91*|
|England won by five wickets|
Jason Roy hit the highest one-day international score by an England player with a sublime 180 to help the tourists beat Australia by five wickets in the first ODI at the MCG.
Roy surpassed Alex Hales’ previous mark of 171 before the opener was caught late on as England eased to the highest successful run chase at Melbourne.
Joe Root made 91 not out in a stand of 221 with Roy as England reached 308-5.
Aaron Finch’s 107 saw the hosts post 304-8 after being put in to bat.
England started rapidly in reply, only to lose Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales in quick succession, before Roy and Root rebuilt from 60-2 to dominate Australia’s bowlers.
Despite the late dismissals of Roy, captain Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler, England calmly secured a 1-0 lead in the five-match series in an impressive start following the 4-0 defeat in the Ashes.
The second ODI is at Brisbane on 19 January, starting at 03:20 GMT.
Records, rollicking and rotation
Roy got England off to a dazzling start. Clearly relishing the pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, the England opener pulled anything short, drove powerfully down the ground and regularly hit over the top.
He took just 32 balls to reach fifty, but the soft dismissals of opening partner Bairstow and number three Hales required him to play more cautiously alongside Root.
The 27-year-old adapted tremendously, showing considerable nous to rotate the strike with the immaculate Root and keep England ahead of the rate, only to stall when approaching three figures.
But after successfully reviewing on 91 when given out lbw to Adam Zampa – the ball striking the pad outside the line – Roy hit the next delivery for six before reaching his fourth ODI century off 92 balls.
Reaching his ton restored Roy’s fluency and power as he surged to 150 off 126 balls before passing the record set by Hales against Pakistan in 2016. He also now has the record for the highest ODI score at the MCG, beating Mark Waugh’s 173 against West Indies in 2001.
It seemed only the lack of runs required would prevent Roy reaching his double century before he finally miscued a pull shot off Starc and was caught by sub fielder Jhye Richardson.
At the other end, Root deftly manipulated the field in an almost flawless knock to anchor the chase. The lack of runs required was the only reason he did not complete a century of his own.
Aussies fail to back up Finch
Morgan chose to put Australia in to bat after rain on Saturday suggested the pitch might be sluggish – only for Finch to punch the first ball down the ground for four.
While the hosts’ scoring was restricted by the early wickets of David Warner and Steve Smith, Finch continued to bat fluently, if not quite at his destructive best, to reach 50 off 65 balls.
He was dropped on 60, with Moeen Ali failing to cling on to a tough caught-and-bowled chance, but began to up the tempo of his innings, bringing up his ninth ODI century with a huge six off Adil Rashid.
Yet he fell soon after, mistiming Moeen to Bairstow in the deep and Australia ultimately needed him to have kicked on to have posted a par target on a pitch that improved as the match went on.
Not that Finch alone should have been responsible. Mitchell Marsh could not convert his fifty, bowled through the gate by a Rashid variation that went straight on, while Marcus Stoinis hit an entertaining 60, but England’s attack did well to limit the hosts with a late flurry of wickets.
They set more than 300 with a four from the final ball, but that is no longer an imposing target in ODIs and England were confident rather than cowed by it.
Wood fires on return
Making his return after knee and heel injuries, Mark Wood set the tone for an assured England display with a vicious opening spell, finding the pace and bounce that the Test side sorely lacked during the Ashes defeat.
The fast bowler removed Warner with just his fifth delivery, getting one to lift sharply and loop up off the top corner edge of the bat, with Root completing a simple catch.
That brought imperious Australia captain Smith to the crease, but he could not find the rhythm of his stunning Ashes performances, making 23 before a thin inside edge through to Buttler off Rashid.
Rashid finished with expensive figures of 2-73, somewhat softened by the key wickets of Smith and Finch, while Moeen offered far greater control than during the Ashes series, ending with a fine 1-39.
While Wood was excellent, Chris Woakes struggled for accuracy until a more promising third spell and Liam Plunkett was solid in taking 3-71, his figures affected by a couple of loose overs.
In fielding only five bowlers, England will be susceptible to conceding bigger totals if one particularly struggles, but their attack looks to have the variation needed on Australian pitches.
‘Hales wasn’t too happy’ – reaction
Man of the match Jason Roy: “It was incredibly special. I don’t have too many words right now. It is a huge honour to be out there for England again and to get runs on the board.
On beating Alex Hales’ record ODI score for England: “He [Hales] wasn’t too happy by the sounds of things. The first thing the boys said was about him being pretty disappointed.”
England captain Eoin Morgan: “I would have taken [Australia’s total] at the start – 300 these days isn’t that big a total to chase down. It wasn’t a huge task. I have no doubt someone else would have put their hand up if Jason hadn’t.”
Australia captain Steve Smith: “We left ourselves a bit short in the first innings. We lost wickets in the middle and it stopped us going as hard at the back end.”