Steve Smith hits century as Australia beat England

Captain Steve Smith made a composed century to lead Australia to a thrilling three-wicket tri-series victory over England in Hobart.
Smith anchored the chase of 304 with an unbeaten 102 to get the home side over the line with one ball to spare. Ian Bell’s 141 earlier saw him become England’s highest one-day run-scorer  and took the tourists to 303-8. Australia reach the tri-series final with a game to spare, while England next play India on 30 January. Victory would put Eoin Morgan’s men through, while defeat may not necessarily rule them out of contention, depending on the outcome of the Australia-India game on Monday and any bonus points earned. In a wider context, England have lost 12 of their last 14 one-day internationals against Australia, with this latest defeat coming against a side containing only seven players named in the squad that will feature when the two meet on the opening day of the World Cup. After England’s bowlers impressed in the nine-wicket win over India on Tuesday, they did little wrong on a true pitch, doing well to take the match to its penultimate ball. However, they did not have the guile to dislodge Smith, who remained as Moises Henriques made the result closer than it should have been by pushing back seven dot balls and being run out with three deliveries remaining. But Smith, captaining Australia in an ODI for the first time in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke and suspended George Bailey, took a single from the next ball, with Mitchell Starc then hitting the winning run. By then, the 25-year-old Smith had moved to a third hundred in 10 one-dayers by working good balls to the leg side and punishing the bad by cutting or whipping fine.
For all Smith’s brilliance, England will rue a woeful end to their innings that yielded only one boundary in the final six overs and just 59 runs in the last 10. As the Australia attack mixed their pace and varied their lengths, England were unable to kick on from a score of 244-2 after 40 overs. Until then, England had dominated, as Bell shared century stands with Moeen Ali, who hit three consecutive sixes in his 46, and Joe Root, who was busy and inventive for 69. Unveiling classy cover drives, Bell punished Australia’s wayward opening attack then accumulated steadily as the hosts improved. Dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on 80, he moved to 98 to pass Paul Collingwood’s mark of 5,092 runs then brought up the fastest of his four ODI hundreds in 92 balls. Robin Smith’s England ODI record of 167 not out  looked to be in his sights, but when he was caught at mid-off from the impressive pace of Gurinder Sandhu, Australia climbed back in to the game. Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner all contributed to the chase, only for Australia to be checked by the regular strikes of Moeen and Steven Finn – the latter taking two wickets in an over. However, Haddin’s 29-ball 42 added late impetus, while Smith moved towards a hundred with a huge leg-side six off James Anderson. Haddin top-edged Chris Woakes to point two balls after Smith reached three figures, meaning Henriques arrived to provide the late drama.