sport

England post testing target

Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Ian Bell scored half-centuries as England set Australia a target of 317 to chase in the fourth one-dayer in Perth.

England got off to their fastest start of the series, taking 73 from the 10-over powerplay - and although they got bogged down in the middle of the innings as Australia rallied, some late hitting saw them to 316-8.

Stokes, Bell and Buttler all impressed, while Alastair Cook, who had revealed his desire to stay on as England captain at the toss, and Eoin Morgan made useful contributions on a batsman-friendly wicket.

Cook struck eight fours as he raced to 44 from 43 balls - with the skipper sharing an opening stand of 87 with Bell.

The left-hander's knock - his highest since he scored 64 against New Zealand back in June last year - finally came to an end when he inside-edged a slog sweep at spinner Glenn Maxwell onto his stumps.

Bell, though, took up the mantle although his half-century arrived with some luck, James Pattinson misjudging a catch on the cover rope. Pattinson ran under the ball which bounced beyond him and over the boundary line.

But Bell (55) was unable to take full advantage of the slip as scooped a bad ball from Dan Christian to James Faulkner at fine leg.

Stokes, who scored his maiden Test ton at the WACA during the Ashes series, continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, his 50 coming up from 58 deliveries.

England, though, were now struggling to get the Australia attack away. Gary Ballance came and went for 18 off 30 balls, Steve Smith holding on to a top edge at cover off Pattinson, while Stokes' attempted slog-sweep off Faulkner went high in the air for wicketkeeper Matthew Wade to take the catch.

Ravi Bopara added just three before his pull off Nathan Coulter-Nile could only find sub fielder Xavier Doherty at mid-on - and it looked as if the wheels were coming off England's challenge.

Morgan, who made a run-a-ball 33, and Buttler set about setting a testing target, though, and needed just 39 balls to bring up the 50 partnership.

Buttler brought up his half-century off a mere 34 balls and he finished with 71, including six fours and four sixes, to help England past the 300-mark. It is comfortably their highest ever total in a 50-over international in Perth.

Buttler finally fell to Faulkner (4-63) in the last over as he tried to finish with a flourish, with Bresnan following in the next delivery - Mitchell Johnson taking catches at third man on both occasions.