Woakes and Buttler help England gut Australia at T20 World Cup
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It was a near-perfect night for England, who are on the brink of qualifying for the T20 World Cup semi-finals after a resounding victory over Australia.
It was a win set up by the involvement of Chris Woakes in the first three wickets, and ended with a staggering 71-on-32-ball innings (including five fours and five sixes) from Jos Buttler. The margin of victory was eight wickets, with 50 balls to spare.
There was little that could have been better. England won a vital draw – the pursuers won 12 of the 13 Super 12 games – and knocked out Australia for 125, which is in fact the highest total they have conceded in their three games this tournament. Just like against the West Indies and Bangladesh, they are pursuing him with a lot to spare. Their net run-rate remains excellent, while Australia took a big hit. South Africa and the Windies will be delighted.
It was a game that shared chilling parallels with meeting these teams in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. England got off to a flying start, inspired by Chris Woakes. Adil Rashid fired Marcus Stoinis for a duck with a heartbreaking googly. Australia never fully recovered and set England a below average goal. They knocked him down with disdain, two less.
England wasted no time getting stuck. Rashid was handed over first rather than his great mate Moeen Ali – because Aaron Finch is a formidable off-spinner – Woakes got back to work.
First, he asked David Warner to fish outside the stump. Then he pulled off a wonderful one-handed grip, returning halfway, to take out Steve Smith, with Chris Jordan the pitcher. In his second more, Woakes pinned Glenn Maxwell lbw, England’s 10th power play wicket in three games. First ball after the power play, Rashid pinned Stoinis lbw; few things seem to baffle Stoinis much like Rashid’s tort’un.
Australia had dropped Mitch Marsh to accommodate the rotation of Ashton Agar’s left arm, so Stoinis’ fall meant the bowlers were only one wicket away. It was left to Finch and Matthew Wade to rebuild, pushing 30 runs into 33 balls.
But as soon as Wade made a big hit, flush with Liam Livingstone, he was caught off guard. Livingstone played superbly and finished his allocation four over for the first time in the T20 internationals, conceding just 15 points. With Finch in the crease, that meant Moeen – so good in the first two games – wasn’t needed.
Agar proved to be a productive partner for Finch, who began to find the limit. Agar threw two sixes – the first of innings – while the final from Woakes cost 20. The next, from Tymal Mills, went to 15, although Agar was trapped. Pat Cummins hit his first two balls for a great six.
In the sequel, Jordan’s last, he returned Finch and Cummins (for a three-ball 12) in successive balls, to finish with three for 17. Mills played last and his frustrating night continued, well. that he missed Adam Zampa and had Mitchell Starc taken behind to eliminate Australia. Finch and the lower order had done well to climb to 125, but it looked well below par.
By the end of the power play, England were more than halfway there. Jason Roy, who had hit a whopping six against Cummins, was sacked in Zampa’s first overhaul to end a stand of 66, but Buttler continued on his way. He threw huge successive sixes on Starc, then was particularly brutal on Adam Zampa.
The same was true for Jonny Bairstow, who joined him to finish the job after Dawid Malan arrived and left. For the second time in the tournament, Bairstow scored the winning points in a very convincing victory.
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