x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Australia are hitting their straps again

Australia seem to have restored the cricketing order with a fifth consecutive victory in the seven-match one-day international series against England.

Australia seem to have restored the cricketing order with a fifth consecutive victory in the seven-match one-day international series against England. After losing the prestigious Ashes series 2-1 last month, the tourists' mastery of their hosts in the one-day game reached new heights on Tuesday when they took a 5-0 lead in the series.

"It's great to see them [Australia] playing well," said the retired Australia spinner Shane Warne. "They [England] have a pretty poor side and Australia are starting to hit their straps, they were hurting after the Ashes. It's good to see them bounce back and play well." Under fire for that loss and with growing calls for his head, the captain Ricky Ponting helped himself to a masterful 126 from 109 balls as Australia managed to chase down the daunting target of 300 with 10 balls to spare and under lights at Trent Bridge.

Warne said the one-day results added weight to his argument that the Australians were the better side in the Ashes and should not have lost the series. "You don't mind being beaten in any sport if a side outplays you on the day or over a series, then so be it," he said. "I suppose the hardest thing for all us Australians was to watch them play and lose to England, who I didn't think were a better side.

"You look at all the numbers, the runs and wickets, we dominated all that sort of stuff, but through a few different things here and there... it probably cost us." Australia will be fancying their chances to increase the margin further in today's day-nighter in Nottingham. England will be without the all-rounder Luke Wright for the final two games. He was hit on the big toe of his left foot while facing a bowling machine on Monday.

His fitness will be assessed next week with regard to his participation in the Champions Trophy. Meanwhile, the Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Asif will be changing his travel plans to go to that eight-nation tournament. The rest of the team will fly to South Africa, with a stop over in Dubai, while Asif will transfer at London. Asif was detained for 19 days last June after Dubai airport authorities found a small amount of opium in his wallet.

He was released without charge and has denied reports he was subsequently deported. Asif's availability for the scheduled one-day international and Twenty20 series against New Zealand in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month remains uncertain. "We need to be sure beforehand that he can travel to the UAE. We have sought clarification from the authorities there and we are hopeful he would be able to play anywhere," said the Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Wasim Bari.

Meanwhile, the West Indies will be given up until the last moment to make changes to their Champions Trophy squad as the board tries to resolve a contracts dispute with leading players. The selectors were forced to select a weakened squad for the tournament due to the protracted row. The side is already in South Africa but the ICC, the game's governing body, is concerned with the absence of big names players like captain Chris Gayle.