By Paul Newman for the Daily Mail
Published: 21:28 BST, 16 September 2020 | Updated: 00:00 BST, 17 September 2020
There was to be no choke from Australia this time. Nor any acceptance of what seemed an inevitable defeat with England charging towards an unbeaten season.
Instead the tourists produced a stunning comeback when all seemed lost to seize this 50-over series with one of the great partnerships in one-day history.
Just as England seemed certain to extend their five-year unbeaten home 50-over series record, with Australia floundering on 73 for five chasing 303, up stepped Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey to turn the tables by adding 212 for the sixth wicket.
Mitchell Starc celebrates after hitting the winning boundary for Australia in series decider
Even then there threatened to be a final twist when both fell after reaching centuries. But even though Adil Rashid, who had been put to the sword by the six-hitting power of Maxwell, returned to claim his man and then Carey fell to a brilliant diving catch by Mark Wood at third man off Jofra Archer, Australia were not to be denied.
Eoin Morgan entrusted his leg-spinner with the final six balls — even though Mark Wood and Tom Curran had overs remaining — with Australia needing 10 to win. And Mitchell Starc smashed the first ball from Rashid for a straight six. Game all but over, Starc swept the winning boundary with two balls to spare.
What drama there was here at Emirates Old Trafford and what a way to finish this compelling season. This decider had begun in the best possible way for Australia when Jason Roy and Joe Root were dismissed by the first two balls of the match from Starc.
Starc smashed his first ball from Rashid for six and then swept the winning boundary
Yet far from beating a retreat, or even regrouping, England went on the attack and appeared to have taken control. First Jonny Bairstow, at something of a crossroads after losing his Test place and being below his best for much of the white-ball season, batted as fluently as he has done all year to make his 10th one-day international century.
Then Sam Billings and Chris Woakes backed up Bairstow with half-centuries as England again demonstrated the depth in their batting to reach 302 for seven and leave Australia needing the highest successful 50-over chase in Old Trafford history.
It seemed well