Jos Buttler added to his late hitting reputation by scoring 65 off 48 balls as England levelled the NatWest series 1-1 against Australia with one game remaining after a three-wicket win in the fourth one-day international at Cardiff’s SWALEC stadium.
George Bailey earlier scored a fighting 87 as Australia posted 227 which seemed a modest total before Clint McKay claimed a hat-trick to put England on the back foot until Eoin Morgan and Michael Carberry saved the chase which Buttler sealed with victory in the end.
Morgan put the tourists into bat first and reaped the rewards straight away as Steven Finn trapped Aaron Finch (0) leg before. Shane Watson (6) nicked Boyd Rankin behind in the fourth over and as Australia struggled to 31-2 in the first powerplay.
Shaun Marsh and Michael Clarke found it difficult to find any impetus into the innings by putting on a steady 40 run partnership before Ben Stokes bounced him out which wicket-keeper Buttler held with ease.
Marsh’s dismissal for 25 lead the way for Clarke’s downfall as Finn (2-43) bowled a full delivery nipping back which hit the Aussies skipper flush on the pads, a decision the on-field umpire gave out despite a review Clarke was on his way leaving the score 57-4.
But Bailey and Adam Voges steading the ship, Bailey hammered James Tredwell for a maximum over long-on and a four to reach his 57-ball half century.
Voges (30) was eventually bowled out by Ravi Bopara in the 30th over, leaving Bailey and Mathew Wade to get the tourists a respectable total, the pair picked up quick singles which was the feature of their batting.
At the end of the batting powerplay (40 overs) Australia reached 195-5, the wickets was always a worry for them and it only got worse. The sixth-wicket stand worth 85 was over when Wade (36) edged Tredwell behind, James Faulkner was run out after Tredwell (3-53) deceived Johnson.
Rankin (2-31) dismissed Bailey for 87 in the 46th over and Australia could only muster six more runs to reach 227-all out in 48.2 overs.
In reply, despite a low score a brilliant spell from McKay turned the game around as he claimed a sensational hat-trick. Kevin Pietersen (5) was lbw playing across the line, the short of runs Jonathan Trott pushed at a full and wide delivery and Joe Root edged behind to Wade leaving England in huge trouble at 8-3.
Morgan and Carberry put in a solid fourth wicket stand to repair the damage and take England closer to victory. The century-stand included correct shots at the right time as Morgan scored 53 and Carberry 63.
Just when the match looked easy for England, three wickets fell for 32 runs in eight overs, firstly Watson bowled out Morgan and debutant Nathan Coulter-Nile snuck one past Carberry behind his pads before Faulkner had Bopara (7) leg before leaving the game in the balance at 144-6.
Buttler and Stokes (25) expansive stand of 75 moved the hosts to the brink of victory until McKay (4-39) returned to bowl out Stokes, however, the brilliant Buttler in a 65-run innings smashed Johnson for a massive six and a four in the final over to take England across the finishing line.
This dramatic last over victory for England now gives us a winner-takes-all finale for the NatWest series fifth one-day international at the Ageas Bowl on Monday.