Australia have endured a shocking batting collapse when within touching distance of a first ODI series win against England since 2015 to lose game two in Manchester by 24 runs.
Cruising at 2-144 in pursuit of 232, Australia lost 4-3 in 21 balls as England quicks Chris Woakes (3-32) and Jofra Archer (3-34) caused havoc under lights in Manchester to level the three-game series at 1-1.
Australia’s total collapse was 8-63 to be all-out for 207 in the 49th-over after captain Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne put their team in a winning position.
The pair were barely troubled after coming together at 2-37, and England captain Eoin Morgan seemed lost for options.
But Morgan’s “all-in” move to bring Archer and Woakes back on for their second spells early yielded results, with the latter trapping Labuschagne lbw to end the 107-run stand and spark Australia’s dramatic downfall at Old Trafford.
Heroes in the game one win on Friday, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell quickly had their stumps rattled, while Finch also departed as the game was turned on its head between the 30th and 34th over.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey (36) mounted a brave resistance, but the long tail was always going to make the task of scoring 85 runs at close to a run-a-ball extremely difficult.
Finch said it was the “million dollar question” about how to stop a collapse being so severe.
“At times we might just might not be 100 per cent committed to our plans,” he said.
“I think at times we might overplay the situation in our head and we’ve got to get better at that.”
It will be of little comfort to Finch, but during his innings he came the fourth Australian to reach 1000 ODI runs in England, behind Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist.
Australia will be ruing allowing England to score late runs in their innings, when the hosts were on the ropes at 8-149 thanks to legspinner Adam Zampa’s bamboozling spell of 3-36.
Tailenders Tom Curran (37) and Adil Rashid put on a crucial 76-run ninth-wicket partnership, which included 53 from the last four overs, to push England to 9-231 after appearing they would fail to reach 200.
Morgan (42) and a watchful Joe Root (39) were England’s best in the top-order.
Australia were again without star batsman Steve Smith, who was left out of a second-straight match despite passing a second concussion test following a hit to the head at training last Thursday.
England haven’t lost an ODI series on home soil since going down 3-2 to Australia five years ago and will be aiming to protect that record in Wednesday’s deciding game.
Morgan said his team would take genuine confidence into game three after the morale-boosting victory.
“The bowlers made us look good today, particularly when Woakes and Jofra came back and asked questions of that big partnership,” he said.
“That’s as well as we’ve bowled for a while.”