London:Australia captain Ricky Ponting praised his side's character after they ended a run of three straight one-day defeats by England with a 78-run win at The Oval.
Wednesday's result came too late to save the series but, instead of facing the prospect of a five-match whitewash at Lord's in Saturday's finale, world champions Australia could now end the contest just 3-2 behind.
Vice-captain Michael Clarke (99 not out) and Ponting (92) were back in the runs at the The Oval, their stand of 155 taking Australia to 290 for five -- the highest score by either side this series.
England were never really in the hunt, thanks mainly to a return of five wickets for 32 runs from pace bowler Ryan Harris, the man of the match.
"Ryan and the boys did a great job with the ball," Ponting told reporters.
"When you're in a situation like you were today, 3-0 down, it says a lot to be able to bounce back, pick yourself up and play a game like we did."
For Harris this was his third five-wicket ODI haul and the 30-year-old said: "I've been happy with the way I've been bowling. I put the ball where I wanted to put it.
"I'm going out there with no fear and knowing I can get anyone out. I'm bowling quicker than three or four years ago, and I'm looking after myself and keeping my body strong.
"An injury last year in my knee was unfortunate, but I'm trying to stay as fit as possible."
After off-spinner Nathan Hauritz withdrew from the tour two games into this series with a foot injury, Australia brought in fast bowler Shaun Tait -- already in the UK with Welsh county Glamorgan -- and his extra pace appears to have lifted the whole squad, as well as unsettling England's batsmen.
Australia arrived on tour without injured fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Brett Lee to play England, knowing their old rivals have beaten them in both last year's Ashes and last month's World Twenty20 final.
"When you haven't got Johnson... our attack for the last few years has been Johnson and Lee so we've always had that fire-power," Ponting explained.
"If anything we lacked zip in the first few games and lacked the ability to get the batsmen off the front foot.
"Taity's been able to do that for us. It's nice to have that fire-power to take wickets through those middle overs, it's vital in one-day cricket and we've done that in the last few games."
Ponting added: "We've been tested a lot in the past 12-18 months, the amount of injuries to our quicks has been hard to deal with. Even with four on the tour, at some stage they'll get niggles and sore, and you have to manage them.
"But put Lee and Hilf and Siddle back into your group and suddenly your stocks look really good again."
Ponting's three previous scores of 21, 13 and three this series and were well below his own standards.
However, he responded with a 93-ball innings featuring 10 fours and his progress towards a 30th ODI century seemed assured until he was caught at extra-cover by Strauss off an 'inside-out' drive against James Anderson.
"When you are in the top three you have to be a consistent run scorer and I haven't been that so far," he said.
"I was just glad to get back amongst the runs and for the team to get a win.
"We're not that far away but you don't need to be that far away to be shown up in international cricket, like we were in the first three games. We'll have another good contest at Lord's."