Australia have taken a 2-0 lead in the five match One Day International series after a remarkable comeback saw the hosts win by one wicket, largely thanks to a superb James Faulkner innings in Brisbane.
After winning the toss and batting first, England set a challenging 301 for victory with Ian Bell and Jos Buttler supporting Morgan who reached 106 before being dismissed in the final over of the innings.
The tourists then impressed with the ball until Australia were 244-9 and a sensational innings by Faulkner took the hosts to victory with just three balls remaining. The England attack shared nine wickets between the six bowlers with Chris Jordan, Tim Bresnan and Joe Root picking up two each to help guide England to within one ball of victory.
That ball never came though as Faulkner smashed 69 off just 47 balls as the all-rounder hit Ben Stokes for two maximums in the 49th over before hitting Bresnan for three consecutive fours in the final over to take his side to victory which is the biggest ever run chase in ODI history at the Gabba.
Unlike the opening ODI at the MCG, England built a solid platform to attack in the latter stages of their innings as Alastair Cook and Ian Bell reached 57 before the captain was dismissed for 22. Joe Root continued to bat at three in an unchanged team for the tourists but he was dismissed for two before star of the show in Melbourne Gary Ballance was sent back to the pavilion for nine by spinner Glenn Maxwell for his second wicket.
Meanwhile, opener Ian Bell was quietly going about his business at the other end at 78-3 and he was joined by Morgan as the Warwickshire man reached his half century off 63 balls with just three boundaries.
Bell was gone for 68 which meant England’s flurry of all-rounders had their chance to impress head coach Ashley Giles. Ravi Bopara started to up the tempo with a quick fire 24 off just 19 balls along with Morgan and after Bopara was dismissed by James Faulkner, Buttler entered the crease178-5 with just under 13 overs left.
With the powerful hitter at the other end of the wicket, Morgan powered to his sixth ODI century in just 94 balls as he went from 50 to 100 in just 24 balls. Buttler was also in fine form as they reached a 100 partnership off 61 balls with Buttler dismissed for 45 off the bowling of Nathan Coulter-Nile before his score was adjusted to 49 at the innings break.
The wicketkeeper went with just nine balls left in the innings with the star of the winter Ben Stokes falling for a golden duck and Morgan eventually falling in the 50th over for an absolutely superb 106 which included six maximums.
The visitors started brightly and two excellent one handed catches put Australia on the back foot. Aaron Finch was sent back to the changing room for a third ball duck after Chris Jordan had him caught at mid-on by Gary Ballance who dropped the same player, in the same position at the MCG. Jordan then snaffled the catch of the match off his own bowling, the Barbados born fast bowler held onto a straight David Warner drive thanks to his lightening reactions after the opener tried to slap the ball back past him to the boundary.
Shaun Marsh and captain Michael Clarke formed a slight recovery before spinner Root claimed their wickets, Ballance caught Clarke before the dangerous Marsh was bowled for 55 to leave Australia 114-4.
Boyd Rankin then returned to the attack and he earned his first wicket, trapping George Bailey plum in front of the wicket, lbw for 24 to leave them reeling at 120-5. An 80-run partnership then begun as Maxwell and Brad Haddin clawed them back into the game.
As often happens in any form of cricket, one wicket brought two as first Haddin was caught by Cook from the bowling of Tim Bresnan for 26 before the Yorkshire seamer had Maxwell caught for 54 by all-rounder Bopara during the batting powerplay.
That left Australia needed 95 off 15 overs with just three wickets left and with all-rounder Faulkner and lower order batsman Coulter-Nile at the crease and it proved to be too much to ask for the latter, Stokes returned to take the wicket of him for 16 with Mitchell Johnson, fresh from taking 1-59 from his 10 overs with the ball joining Faulkner at the crease.
The run-rate was up to over nine an over when Johnson was the ninth wicket to fall as Bopara made sure every bowler ended the innings with a wicket. It looked as though England had the game in the bag and had levelled the series at 1-1 but it wasn’t to be as Clint McKay hung around for 27 minutes while scoring two and only facing nine balls to support Faulkner.
The all-rounder played the perfect innings by keeping the strike at every opportunity he could as he scored five sixes to give Australia a 2-0 lead going into the pivotal third ODI in Sydney on Sunday. England know if they are to win the series they have to claim victory at the SCG otherwise they will have double disappointment after losing the Ashes series 5-0.
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