England captain Eoin Morgan described his team’s victory over Australia to secure the one-day series as “probably our best win as a group to date”.
Jos Buttler struck four sixes in an unbeaten 100 from 83 balls as England beat Australia by 16 runs in Sydney.
England added 76 from the final six overs to compile 302-6 and then restricted Australia to 286-6 to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
“I’m extremely proud of the way we performed,” Morgan added.
England’s victory was their 18th in the past 20 completed ODIs and was all the more impressive given fast bowler Liam Plunkett had to leave the field with a hamstring injury after bowling only eight deliveries.
“Losing one of our quicks hurt us quite a lot but the amount of character we showed at the end was great,” Morgan said.
“Throughout the whole game we were asked questions – with the bat, losing early wickets and never really gaining momentum. Jos anchored the innings until about the 43rd over and pushed the button from there.
“I think 260-270 was the likely score until he and Chris Woakes really did take advantage of some loose bowling. The wicket wasn’t perfect to bat on and 300 was a competitive total.
“The biggest question asked of us was losing Plunkett but the bowlers were absolutely outstanding. In the two years we have been together this has been our most exceptional win.”
Asked about Buttler’s spectacular innings, in which the wicketkeeper was joined by all-rounder Woakes for an unbroken partnership of 113 in 11.5 overs, Morgan added: “Jos was probably the difference between the sides. On a two-paced wicket he paced it to perfection.”
Man of the match Buttler, who struck his fifth ODI century, agreed with his captain and said: “It’s the best win we’ve ever had – the way we were challenged throughout, Plunkett getting injured, Joe Root sticking his hand up to bowl the overs, and still fighting, and to win the series.”
England now have the opportunity of a first 5-0 series whitewash against Australia, with matches to come in Adelaide on Friday and Perth on 28 January.
“We want to win these next next two games. Things are going really well, the group are working well together and we want to get more games for the guys who have been really good for us in this series,” Morgan added.
Australia regained the Ashes in emphatic style with a 4-0 victory in the Test series and had won their past four ODIs against England at the SCG, but Morgan’s team have now won six of their past seven matches against their old rivals.
England’s record Test wicket-taker James Anderson, commentating on the match for the BBC’s Test Match Special, lamented the fact the World Cup – which England are yet to win – does not begin until May 2019.
“It’s a fantastic group of players coming together at the same time,” he said. “They would want the World Cup to be this summer and not the following summer. It’s a case of trying to keep this going.”