England’s cricketing summer is arguably one of the busiest ever in international cricket ever. Being the only country hosting international cricket post pandemic, England cricket has garnered attention and praise for creating an effective bio-bubble to host touring nations. After hosting West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan for multiple T20I and Test series, England geared themselves to host Australia in the first T20 International at Southampton on Friday. England-Australia matches irrespective of the venue, time and format are enthralling to watch, this one too, following suit. In a topsy-turvy swing of momentum, England also managed to scamper through to win the final-over drama by 5 runs.
The turning point of the match came in the 15th over when Steve Smith was dismissed, caught off Adil Rashid. Australia at that point were at a comfortable place needing only 38 of 5.4 overs. Nine times out of ten, it promises to be a cake walk for the chasing side. But today, it wasn’t meant to be. Smith’s wicket opened the doors for the English bowling attack to jump in. The boundaries dried, runs were hard to come by and to visitors’ disappointment, the batsmen too started to succumb to the pressure. Australia lost Maxwell, Warner and Carey in space of less than 10 balls and 6 runs. Overall, in the last 5 overs, the Aussies managed only 36 runs losing as many as 5 wickets. Moreover, the English bowlers put a leash on the boundaries as well allowing only a solitary six in the said period.
With 19 needed off the last 2 overs, Jordan gave away only 4 runs along with Agar’s runout off the last ball. Tom Curran also managed to mix his pace well successfully defending 15 in the last over against the mighty Marcus Stoinis.
England vs Australia T20I: A contest that kept everyone on the edge
“It’s never lost until it’s over.” T20s have often been exemplary to the saying and tonight was no different. The right-left combination of Aaron Finch and David Warner got the better of the bowlers in the first half. Having said, the English bowlers (Archer, Wood, Curran, Rashid and Jordan) all bounced back hard and square restricting Australia 2 runs short off their target.
Earlier, Finch and Warner got Australia off to a flier with a 98 run stand between themselves. Warner also carried on to get yet another T20 fifty. Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis also chipped in with a decent contribution, albeit none enough to take the team home. The pitch too remained on the slower side throughout and the ball seemed to hold on the pitch making it difficult for the new-comers to adapt. The minimal contribution from the middle order of either side is also a proof of the slowness of the wicket.
England on the other hand rode on the brilliance of Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan to reach a defendable 162. While Buttler was fearless in the powerplay, Malan continued his remarkable T20I run to score another half century. Malan in his 13 T20 innings averages in excess of 50 with a century and 6 half centuries. His onslaught against Zampa in the 18th over made the difference between England setting an under-par and a defendable total. The Australian skipper might well look back at his decision to allow Zampa finish his quota of overs over the impressive Cummins, Richardson and Maxwell.
Nonetheless, the first match sets up the tone for all the further matches to come. The cricketing fraternity continues to look forward to one of the fiercest rivalries that world cricket has ever witnessed.
Eoin Morgan, England Captain
“Statistically you can never win the game in the first ten overs, you’re always chasing in the back end. The bowlers came good in the last overs, Adil taking two important wickets to expose that middle order. It’s difficult coming in under lights on a slow wicket.”
Aaron Finch, Australian Captain
“We knew England would come back hard, as long as the boys keep learning and continue to improve … lesson learnt. If you can separate the execution and gameplan you can look deeper, but T20 is about taking your options.”