Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey’s record-breaking 212-run partnership steered Australia to a thrilling one-day series victory over England at Emirates Old Trafford.
Chasing 303, Maxwell hit a blistering 108 from 90 balls and Carey a more measured 106 as a belligerent partnership rescued Australia from 73-5.
Maxwell fell with 15 balls remaining and Carey holed out at the end of the 49th over to leave Australia needing 10 runs from the final six balls.
However, Mitchell Starc pummelled the first ball from Adil Rashid for six, and a swept boundary ensured Australia sneaked over the line with two balls remaining.
The defeat ended England’s five-year unbeaten run in home ODI series, as well as being their first series loss of the summer.
Jonny Bairstow had earlier made 112 to help England recover from losing two wickets to the first two deliveries of the innings and post 302-7.
England could have dismissed Carey for nine had Jofra Archer not overstepped when the Australia wicketkeeper was caught at third man off a ballooning top edge.
Carey went on to make England pay – hitting his first ODI century, with he and Maxwell surpassing Brad Haddin and Mike Hussey’s stand of 165 against West Indies in 2006 to compile Australia’s highest sixth-wicket partnership in ODIs.
This was the end of a long summer for England, but a welcome win for Australia, who were whitewashed on their last limited-overs visit in 2018.
Maxwell & Carey light up Old Trafford
When a furious Marnus Labuschagne was run out at 73-5, Australia looked to be out of the contest, but Maxwell picked the perfect moment to play the definitive innings for his country that he has long threatened.
Maxwell, who is known as ‘The Big Show’, divides opinion in Australia but there are few players as watchable as he is when on song.
A half-century came up from 48 balls; the next over, Rashid was smashed so hard and so high over the short leg-side boundary the ball rattled off the glass of the enormous Point building.
Carey was the less flashy part of the partnership. He used an angled bat to guide the ball around the field, bringing up his fifth ODI half-century with a fine clip through mid-wicket off Chris Woakes.
The two ran superbly, putting the England fielders under pressure, and the pace bowlers seemed to lose their lines, with eight wides not helping their cause.
Australia were 222-5 with 10 overs remaining but both players hit out, Maxwell reaching just his second ODI hundred with another leg-side six, before Carey flashed a single off Woakes to reach three figures for the first time.
Memories of their second ODI collapse may have lingered when Maxwell and Carey fell with the finish line in sight, but this time Australia claimed the win and, with it, the series.
Australia end England’s home run
The world champions will be left to rue missed chances.
As well as Archer’s no ball, England were not up to their usual standard in the field, with two dropped catches and several scruffy dives allowing Maxwell and Carey to rotate the strike.
England had this game in their grasp. Woakes continued an excellent all-round performance by having opposition captain Aaron Finch trapped lbw and seeing Marcus Stoinis slap a slower ball to Eoin Morgan at mid-wicket inside the first 10 overs.
When Joe Root chipped in with his part-time off-spin to bowl a beleaguered David Warner and have Mitchell Marsh caught behind, everything was going right for the hosts.
But with Root bowling an over or two more than necessary, and Maxwell dismantling Rashid with the short boundaries, England allowed the pair to get their eye in.
Bairstow rescues England with bat
England found themselves 0-2 after just two balls in a disastrous start on a fresh pitch.
Jason Roy sliced Starc’s first ball to Maxwell at backward point before Root was lbw to a pacy inswinger, but Bairstow marshalled a fine recovery.
Supported first by Eoin Morgan and then Sam Billings, Bairstow found the aggression that worked so well in the World Cup. He was strong on the pull shot against the pace bowlers and, as the pitch slowed, he adapted well, taking singles where they were available.
He brought up his 10th ODI century with a towering six off Pat Cummins before Billings joined in the attack, lofting Starc into the car park as he reached his half-century.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa once again impressed for Australia, forcing errors out of Morgan and Jos Buttler as they were caught at mid-off and cover respectively, before Billings top-edged a reverse sweep to end a 114-run stand.
When Bairstow was bowled by a Cummins slower ball, England’s tail could have subsided, but Woakes was at his best. His half-century came up from just 38 balls and included an astonishing reverse scoop off Josh Hazlewood.
It was a good total on a decent pitch, but Maxwell and Carey’s brilliance left England just short.
‘The cricket this summer has been remarkable’
Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: “What we’ve witnessed in the last few months in terms of drama has been remarkable. When you think the players have been locked up in cricket grounds, they have produced so many dramatic moments.
“I think that’s a big moment for Australia. From where they were on Sunday, if they’d lost that game, and it looked like they would going into the last over, I don’t know how Justin Langer would have picked them up. I don’t know what he could have said. They deserved to win.”
England captain Eoin Morgan: “Alex Carey and Glenn Maxwell played outstandingly well. It’s always an interesting challenge, one that the bowlers are always up for. The bowlers never gave up.
“Sometimes when you’re beaten by the better side you’ve just got to put your hand up and today was one of those games.”
Australia captain Aaron Finch: “It was an incredible game of cricket, action aplenty.
“Yeah, we thought we were in trouble, absolutely. Maxi is in the team to do a specific role, to try to swing the momentum. He dragged it back. That partnership was fantastic. I’m really proud of both of them.
“I don’t think there are many bowlers in the world who can hang with him when he’s having one of those days.”