Joe Root stars with bat and ball as England beat Australia by four wickets

England's Joe Root, celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Steve Smith.
England's Joe Root, celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Steve Smith.
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Joe Root starred with bat and ball as England scored a rare four-wicket victory over Australia at the Gabba to take a 2-0 lead in the one-day series.

Having set a new record chase at the MCG last time out the tourists chalked off another notable success behind enemy lines, beating the hosts at their Brisbane stronghold for just the second time in limited-overs cricket and first since 1999.

England's Jonny Bairstow goes on the attack against Australia today.

England's Jonny Bairstow goes on the attack against Australia today.

Root produced a typically measured knock of 46 not out to see England past Australia’s 270 for nine with 34 balls to spare, but his occasional off-breaks proved just as useful to the cause as he dismissed home captain Steve Smith in figures of two for 31.

Chris Woakes can also be delighted with his evening’s work, following a tidy bowling stint with two run outs and 39no at the close.

Defeat was tough on Mitchell Starc, who steamed in to take four wickets in England’s 274 for six, and Aaron Finch, who made it back-to-back centuries with a controlled 106, but neither could quibble with the eventual result.

Smith chose to bat first and “run them off their feet” on a hot Queensland afternoon but, aside from Finch’s 114-ball hundred, Australia singularly under-delivered.

England's Liam Plunkett, centre. celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Aaron Finch.

England's Liam Plunkett, centre. celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Aaron Finch.

But while there was plenty to admire in his clarity and control - he offered one half-chance on 26 and was dropped on 60 - there was never any sense of him dominating proceedings.

Some support might have helped, David Warner (35) nicking Moeen Ali and Smith (18) undone by a glorious gambit from Eoin Morgan.

For the 20th over he tossed the ball to Root, who had bowled a grand total of six balls in his last nine ODIs. Root duly pinned Smith lbw, the high point of a spell which also accounted for Travis Head.

Finch and Mitchell Marsh put on 85 in 94 balls but once Liam Plunkett made Finch his 100th ODI wicket Australia buckled.

They lost six wickets for 62 in the last 11 overs, retreating instead accelerating.

Australia struck an important psychological blow with their fourth delivery in response, Jason Roy adding just two to his record-breaking 180 from Melbourne before clipping Starc to mid-wicket.

Yet Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales barely blinked, responding to the express pace of Starc and debutant Jhye Richardson with seven boundaries in the first six overs.

There was power, placement and above all a confidence to play their shots. It soon became a race to 50, Bairstow winning when he pummelled Starc down the ground.

As a measure of the Yorkshireman’s fluency, it was his ninth four in 41 balls at the crease - the same as Finch managed in his entire stay.

Hales was mere seconds behind, heaving Head for six, but Richardson’s second spell hauled Australia back into a game that was fast escaping them.

In the space of eight balls he removed both set batsmen, Hales (57) bowled via the inside edge and Bairstow (60) picking out David Warner at cover to shift the tone.

Eoin Morgan, on the day he captained the side for a record 70th time, played Starc on for 21 before Root and Jos Buttler eased the tension with a breezy 68.

Buttler played the flashier knock, with Root anchoring, and Smith rolled the dice by asking Starc to bowl out.

He seized the moment in style, finding Buttler’s outside edge for 42 and then toppling Moeen Ali with a irresistible yorker.

But once he was done Root and Woakes eased England home and within one game of securing the series.

Root said after the game: “It’s always enjoyable to get wickets at the top of the innings.

“The form (Steve Smith) has been in this summer, it’s obviously very enjoyable to see the back of him. Hopefully that can continue.”

England lost the Ashes series against Australia 4-0 and Root believes his side’s performances since the Test matches have been encouraging.

He added: “Whenever you come off the back of a series loss you want to prove a point and this a great example for us as a one-day group to show how good of a side we are in different conditions.

“These two games have been very good in that respect, so it’s really pleasing.”