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Smith, Warner and bowlers stall England

Australia 297 for 9 (Smith 116, Warner 43, Plunkett 4-69) beat England 285 all out (Vince 64, Buttler 52, Behrendorff 2-43) by 12 runs

Something about England seems to inspire Steven Smith into producing his absolute best. The warm-up at Southampton, where he was greeted with hostility from a sizable crowd, was no different.

He brought up his fourth fifty-plus score since returning from his year-long ban, converting this one into a hundred, which formed the backbone of Australia's 297 for nine. England may have fancied chasing it down, but on a two-paced surface, it proved just out of reach despite stand-in captain Jos Buttler's brilliance.

England were down to only 11 fit players at the start, instead of the permitted 15. In a space of three balls in the seventh over, injury scares took a pandemic turn with Mark Wood jogging off having halted in his run-up, and his substitute Jofra Archer went off two balls later as he lost his footing while sliding at the deep midwicket boundary.

Later, left-arm spinner Liam Dawson split the skin on the finger of his right hand and was out of batting contention. Substitutes, including assistant coach Paul Collingwood who turns 43 in a day, came in and went off through the revolving door. Wood also went for a precautionary scan, which James Vince confirmed "wasn't too serious."

Australia were unperturbed by the chaos as David Warner and Shaun Marsh batted steadily, adding 63 after the early loss of captain Aaron Finch. Then Warner holed out off a short one from Liam Plunkett to mark Smith's arrival.

Smith batted fluently without ever looking in a hurry, placing good balls into empty pockets and dealing with the bad ones more severely. He had support through the innings, without a major contribution from anyone. Marsh departed for 30 and Usman Khawaja made 31 before being stumped off a wide one from Dawson as he revealed his intention too early.

Had this been an ODI, Australia may have been irked by the starts squandered but in a warm-up it worked just fine that everyone had a hit. Marcus Stoinis was another one who got in and couldn't go on, run-out as Smith called him for what should have been an easy second had the allrounder not been ball-watching. That brought in Alex Carey and through him Australia found late impetus.

He struck a 14-ball 30 before being brilliantly caught by a diving Tom Curran. At the other end Smith opened up with a six over extra cover and one over the keeper's head, bringing up his hundred with a nudge to square leg in between.

The Australia innings ended amid controversy and confusion as Smith was given out caught and bowled off what seemed like a bump ball. Curiously, he was willing to walk off till he saw the replay and felt differently. The third umpire, however, thought the evidence was conclusive to rule Smith out.

England began their chase nervously but luck was on their side. Jason Roy was struck on the helmet, dropped at slip by Smith and nearly dragged one on. Those moments of uncertainty seemed to stir him into action as he suddenly discovered the middle of his bat, but the surface was already showing signs of variable bounce as some reared up from a length and some scooted through to the keeper from similar areas.

Wickets came soon after as Jonny Bairstow spliced Jason Behrendorff to mid-on and Roy jabbed at one that held in the surface and bounced higher than he expected to be caught at short cover. Ben Stokes struggled for timing during the course of his stay, which was curtailed by Nathan Lyon, as he threw one wide seeing Stokes advance and had him stumped.

That brought Buttler to the crease and with him out there, nothing seemed impossible. He looked in imperious form from the get-go, dismissing any theories about the need to get one's eye in. But even at that stage he seemed to be batting within himself. That became apparent when he tore into Nathan Coulter-Nile, smoking three fours and two sixes off an over.

A walloping like that would have forced Finch's hand in an ODI but here he could afford to persist with the pacer and was rewarded next over as he induced an error from Buttler off a well disguised knuckle ball.

The onslaught brought parity to the contest despite the fall of James Vince for 64 which left England needing 101 off 97 with five wickets in hand. Chris Woakes, playing purely as a batsman enhanced his reputation with a composed 44-ball 40 that kept England in the hunt, but his run-out in search of a quick single that would have brought him back on strike in the 48th over left England with too much to do.

England 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st39JM BairstowJJ Roy
2nd26JM VinceJJ Roy
3rd35JM VinceBA Stokes
4th71JM VinceJC Buttler
5th26MM AliJM Vince
6th42MM AliCR Woakes
7th11CR WoakesTK Curran
8th25LE PlunkettCR Woakes
9th8LE PlunkettAU Rashid
10th2AU RashidJC Archer