BRISBANE - Australian allrounder James Faulkner smashed 69 runs from just 47 balls to give Australia a miraculous one wicket win in the second one day international at the Gabba on Friday. Chasing 301 for victory, Australia looked down and out at 244-9 with six overs remaining.
But Faulkner had other ideas as he launched an all-out assault on the English attack, being particularly brutal to Ben Stokes, who went for 1-74 from his 10 overs. Faulkner smashed three fours and five sixes against England, who had been on track to record their first win over Australia on a miserable tour. The Tasmanian sent the crowd of just over 32,000 into raptures with two massive sixes in the 49th over, before finishing England with three consecutive boundaries off Tim Bresnan to give Australia a 2-0 lead in the five match series.
"I've been in that situation a fair few times, being the allrounder and having to bat at the end, and a lot of times I haven't been successful and I've stuffed up the game," Faulkner said. "So it was just nice to get the boys over the line this evening." Faulkner's innings overshadowed a superb century from England's Eoin Morgan, whose 106 earlier in the day came from 99 balls.
After starting cautiously, the left-handed Morgan picked up the pace in the last 10 overs, smashing four boundaries and clearing the rope six times in a brutal display, his second 50 taking just 24 balls. With such an imposing target to chase, the Australians needed to get away to a good start -- but they were rocked early when Chris Jordan dismissed Aaron Finch, the first match century-maker spooning a simple catch to Gary Ballance at mid-off for a duck.
Jordan struck again to remove David Warner for 18, somehow hanging on to a one-handed return catch from a full-blooded drive from the dangerous Australian opener. Part-time off spinner Joe Root then grabbed the key wickets of Michael Clarke (17) and Shaun Marsh (55) to put the visitors in control at 114-4. The Australians were in further trouble six runs later when towering seamer Boyd Rankin found the right length and had George Bailey trapped in front for 24.
Glenn Maxwell (54) and Brad Haddin (26) launched a counterattack, putting on 80 in 67 balls, but Bresnan struck twice in one over to dismiss both batsmen and leave the home side at 206-7. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mitchell Johnson came and went, and at 244-9 it looked all over until Faulkner's knock. Morgan admitted England were as stunned as most people watching the game.
"We were all over today's game. We did a lot of things right but we let a good side come in at the end and allowed them to play and didn't finish as well as we'd like," he said. "We're as surprised as anybody at the result." England captain Alastair Cook had won the toss on a hot and humid afternoon and had no hesitation batting first on a benign Gabba stadium wicket. The tourists got away to a bright start with Cook and Ian Bell putting on 57 off only 68 deliveries, before Cook drove a ball back to spinner Maxwell, who dived forward and took a good return catch low to the ground.
Root came and went, falling leg before to Johnson for two, before Maxwell struck again when he had Ballance stumped for nine, leaving England at 78-3 and in danger of throwing away the good start.
Bell and Morgan set about rebuilding the innings, adding 61 runs for the fourth wicket. Bell was run out with the score on 139, but Morgan then shared good partnerships with Ravi Bopara (24) and Jos Buttler (49) to push the score to 300.
However, it wasn't enough to halt Australia, who now have seven wins over England in a row. England has one day to recover before the third match in Sydney on Sunday. "We know we have the capability in our squad to perform and compete with this very good Aussie side, so we'll take that into Sydney," Morgan said.
A Cook c and b Maxwell 22
I Bell run out 68
J Root lbw Johnson 2
G Ballance st Haddin b Maxwell 9
E Morgan c Clarke b Faulkner 106
R Bopara c Bailey b Faulkner 24
J Buttler c Clarke b Coulter-Nile 49
B Stokes c Maxwell b Coulter-Nile 0
T Bresnan not out 1
C Jordan not out 2
EXTRAS: (w12, nb1, lb4) 17
TOTAL: (8 wkts, 50 0vers) 300
FOW: 1-57, 2-60, 3-78, 4-139, 5-178, 6-295, 7-296, 8-297
BOWLING: McKay 9-0-61-0, Johnson 10-0-59-1, Coulter-Nile 9-0-55-2, Faulkner 10-0-73-2, Maxwell 8-0-31-2, Clarke 4-0-17-0
D Warner c and b Jordan 18
A Finch c Ballance b Jordan 0
S Marsh b Root 55
M Clarke c Ballance b Root 17
G Bailey lbw Rankin 24
G Maxwell c Bopara b Bresnan 54
B. Haddin c Cook b Bresnan 26
N Coulter-Nile lbw Stokes 16
J Faulkner not out 69
M Johnson c Buttler b Bopara 1
C McKay not out 2
EXTRAS: (w10, lb8) 18
TOTAL: (9 wkts, 49.3 overs) 301
FOW: 1-6, 2-32, 3-70, 4-114, 5-120, 6-200, 7-206, 8-235, 9-244
BOWLING: Rankin 7-0-36-1, Jordan 9-0-53-2, Bresnan 9.3-0-64-2, Stokes 10-0-75-1, Root 9-0-46-2, Bopara 5-0-19-1
UMPIRES: John Ward (AUS), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV UMPIRE: Ranmore Martinez (SRI)
MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)