Australia captain Steve Smith has called on his batsmen to drastically improve in Friday’s fourth ODI against England at Headingley – after the hosts clawed their way back into the five-match series with a 93-run victory on Tuesday.
Had the Aussies won the third One-Day International at Old Trafford earlier this week, they would have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series. However, their top order completely collapsed and never looked likely to reach the 301 target set for them by the host nation in difficult batting conditions.
With the score poised at 2-1 with two games to go, Australia are currently 8/11 to win the fourth ODI at Coral and claim the series at the second attempt. Meanwhile, England are best priced 11/10 to win with the same bookmaker and take the series to a decider.
Run-Chase Collapse A Concern
After struggling to get to grips with England’s spin attack of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali – who posted combined figures of 5-73 – Australia were bowled out for just 207 at Old Trafford and that collapse concerned the Aussie skipper.
Speaking after the 93-run defeat, Smith told Sky Sports: “The middle overs cost us.
“Their spinners bowled well and we’re going to have to find ways to adapt in the middle overs, to get off strike and make sure we’ve got enough in the shed at the end.”
Not All Doom And Gloom For Green Caps
Smith could still take some positives despite the defeat, with the performances of ODI debutant Ashton Agar and returning batsman Aaron Fitch – who has struggled for fitness and form this season, but managed to score 53 on Tuesday – earning praise from their captain.
He added: “(Fitch) played some beautiful shots down the ground – he’s a quality player and it’s good to have him back.
“I thought he (Agar) bowled quite nicely on debut. He probably could have had a few more wickets – we were a bit sloppy there – but he did really well.”
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a series win earlier in the week, Smith is still hopeful of not letting the opportunity pass Australia by again at Headingley on Friday.
Smith said: “We’re obviously in a good position – 2-1 up – and hopefully we can come out and play a better game there.”