Australia clinched the Natwest One Day International series 2-1 after beating England by 49 runs at the Ageas Bowl.
A scintillating 143 from Shane Watson combined with 10 overs of fast, straight bowling from Mitchell Johnson played a major part in victory as he claimed his 200th ODI wicket with figures of 2-21.
England were set a target of 299 for victory which would have been a record run-chase for the hosts in One Day International cricket. Although it seemed a large score the tourists would probably have felt disappointed after a superb partnership between Shane Watson and Michael Clarke.
The skipper scored 75 at almost a run a ball while Watson was the star of the show with a blistering 143 off just 107 balls as he tore the bowling attack apart. Between them they put on 163 for the fourth wicket to propel them to a formidable score.
However, Ashley Giles’ men fought back with youngster Ben Stokes taking his maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket as he finished his 10 overs with figures of 5-61. He was ably assisted by debutant Chris Jordan who took the wickets of Phil Hughes, Clarke and James Faulkner on his way to 3-51.
England’s innings couldn’t have got off to a worse start when star man Kevin Pietersen was run-out in a mix-up with fellow opener Michael Carberry to leave them 1-1. Pietersen is the country’s highest run scorer if you combine all forms of the game and his loss was a massive blow to the home support in Southampton after Fawad Ahmed ran him out.
It was the second time in three innings the pair had been broken due to a run-out after Carberry was the one to suffer at Edgbaston. Unfortunately the Ageas Bowl stalwart Carberry didn’t last too much longer as he was dismissed for 30 due to Clarke reviewing a big shout for lbw off the bowling of Faulkner and the 32-year-old was given out on his home ground.
Joe Root was the next to fall after the menacing Mitchell Johnson bowled the Yorkshireman. The left-arm fast bowler was in outstanding form, bowling over 90mph and with form like that putting himself in the frame for Ashes selection with the series starting in just over two months.
Only four runs later the returning Luke Wright was on his way back to the pavilion after he was run-out after only facing one ball thanks to a direct hit from George Bailey. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara then did their best to rebuild until Morgan was stumped by the bowling of Adam Voges for 30.
When England were forced to take their powerplay at 35 overs it looked like they could win the game at that stage as Buttler and Bopara forced the issue with enterprising play. That wasn’t the case though as Buttler was bowled by Faulkner for 42 then just two runs later Bopara was Mitchell Johnson’s 200th ODI wicket after Voges caught the all-rounder.
Jordan, Stokes and Boyd Rankin followed back to the pavilion to leave England all out for 249. The 49 run victory gave the tourists a well deserved series win to round off the international summer and hand Australia some momentum heading into next month's ODI series away in India.