When Australia started this series on a losing cause the other day against England, they returned to the cricket field after 175 days – much to the delight of cricket fans and fantasy apps users, playing on new fantasy cricket sites.
How Did It All Start
In the second game of the T20I series between the top two ranked teams in the shortest format of international cricket, Aaron Finch won the toss and chose to bat first.
Following recent events in England matches, Eoin Morgan’s men prefer batting second – given their relative inexperience in the bowling attack and a greater belief in the batting order to restore the damage done should things go south.
The toss – that marks the end of time for cricket money apps or cricket earning apps to make their Fancy11 fantasy teams – saw Eoin Morgan mentioning that he wasn’t too bothered with the outcome of the coin flip as he anyway was hoping to chase – looking for a series win.
Early Setbacks For The Aussies
England opening bowler in Jofra Archer accounted for the first wicket even before a single run was added to the scoreboard. With the event happening as early as half-way through the first over, David Warner saw the umpire raising his finger on a caught behind decision.
Initially it looked like a controversial decision. David Warner – after getting a half-century in the opening game – sent the decision upstairs thinking only his arm was exposed to the ball.
However, replays showed that the leather also kissed the gloves on the way to the keeper in Jos Butler. Not only were the Aussies jolted early in a decisive game as far as their fortunes in the series were concerned – but they also lost a review.
Alex Carey has done an excellent job while batting at the top for Adelaide Strikers in the last four to five rounds of the Big Bash league down in Australia. The left handed keeper batsman made his name at that position. He got his case stronger after not only scoring big runs – but also doing it consistently enough for the selectors to take note of his talent that earned him national call-ups.
Even in one of the Intra Squad warm-up games that preceded the series, Alex Carey scored a massive century while batting at the number three slot. But in the 18-24 months that he’s played for Australia as their first choice keeper batsman over Matthew Wade, he’s been playing at the middle order.
Not that his numbers point out that he’s fared poorly, Alex Carey has been an underdog for this Australian team that is surrounded by big names and their stories. So Australia decided to give him a go at the top in an experiment that didn’t pay off.
The first 13 balls saw only three runs being added to the score a couple of wickets go down. This turned into a horror start for Australia as an exceptional piece of fielding from Captain Morgan forced the return of Smith back to the pavilion.
Rebuilding To A Competitive Total
Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch stabled the ship for the visitors after the bowling had done well for the home side. Consistently struggling in the initial overs for a long time now, it was a much improved performance. That must have helped them in burying the ghosts of the opening partnership between Warner and Finch in the opening T20I where the first wicket took more than ten overs to come.
The Cricbuzz preview for this match by Rob Johnston was all about England’s T20 specialist bowler in Chris Jordan and how he’s been so consistent over the years. He picked two wickets again in this match as well. He played in England’s 34 of their last 35 T20 matches since the last World T20 back in April 2016.
His first dismissal today was the crucial breakthrough of opposition captain Aaron Finch at a time when the Australian skipper had spent a considerable amount of time in the crease. Looking at transferring the pressure back to the hosts, the wicket couldn’t have come at a better time for England.
Australia’s vice-captain in Pat Cummins was finished the innings strongly for side in the final over. Things started with getting a thickish edge that flew to the boundary before he authoritatively deposited a clean hit above Jofra Archer’s head for a maximum.
Batsmen proud themselves on the fact when they can smash bowlers above their heads. What would add to Archer’s chagrin is it was the opposition pacer in Pat Cummins who dealt with him in such a disdainful manner to get those valuable couple of lusty blows.
Defending 158 to remain alive in the series, having lost the opening game – it was an absolute must win match for the visitors.
The English Response
English opener in Jonny Bairstow’s struggles seemed to continue when the first ball that he faced against Mitchell Starc was a close enough call for the Aussies to send the decision upstairs. He nearly missed out on getting a golden duck after not having the best of runs with the bat coming into this game.
After his partner in Jos Butler gave him the strike in the first ball of the chase, Bairstow couldn’t score a run for the next four deliveries before he somehow got the last ball of the opening over by Mitchell Starc for four byes.
Pat Cummins made a great comeback in his first over. After being struck for a boundary through the cover regions by Butler, the wily Aussie pacer couldn’t have got the yorker any better that led to an extremely close call when viewed by the naked eye. Australia captain Finch decided against taking the review but his bowlers had certainly made a resounding start to their target defence, having enforced two close dismissal shouts in as many overs.
Just when Bairstow seemed to be hitting his straps, finding some of his long lost form – he was dismissed hit wicket against the run of play.
The best slower ball economy rates in International T20s since January 2019 belongs to the following three bowlers –
- Kane Richardson – 6.51
- Deepak Chahar – 6.87
- Pat Cummins – 7.20
Coming as the first change bowler after Pat Cummins decided not to continue as the opening bowler, Kane Richardson put Butler under a slight of a tangle by pitching up four consecutive dot balls to him. The destructive opener responded in some style with a hoick over the mid-on region that landed on the boundary cushions, with the umpire raising both his arms up in the air to signal six runs.
5. What Went Wrong
Three of Australia’s first five overs were delivered by Starc. While he initially did trouble England’s number three with his pace, Dawid Malan adopted well and then pulled a shot for four after picking up the length soon. The Aussie left armer got erratic with his lines. He put in the effort ball that strayed down the leg side, fittingly put away by Jos Butler.
Australia were not so bad with the bowling in the early part of their innings but their situation would’ve been of a stronger one had it not been for the boundaries that were a bit too many that it should’ve been for the visitors’ liking in terms of applying early pressure.
Cummins was summoned for his services in the last over of the powerplay. He did well to not let England off the hook in keeping things tight. Malan got lucky in finding the edge after he threw the kitchen sink in the last delivery of the over in what was a morale victory for Cummins, but the runs is what counts in this format of the game, no matter how they come.
Australia saw Glenn Maxwell being introduced into the attack after the powerplay ended even before Adam Zampa. The all-rounder had good returns with the ball in the first game, not going for too much runs and more importantly – picked up two of the England batsmen.
Zampa was seen partnering the bowling with Maxwell in the other end. Jos Buttler was making his intentions clear as he came down the pitch in each of the first three deliveries that he faced from the young and very talented Australia leg spinner. The Aussie however kept up well the strangulation role, giving away only four runs in his first over.
6. England’s Run Machine
England’s run machine in Dawid Malan hit consecutive boundaries in the first two balls of the next over, easing some of the pressure that the home side might have been feeling at that time of the match. The contest was intense as Maxi did well to keep the damage to bare minimum in the remaining part of the over.
Malan repeated the feat of successive boundaries in the following over against Zampa. Being the ever consistent batsman in this format for England ever since his debut, Malan was doing the job of finding the ropes at regular intervals during a passage of time when Butler was having it the hard away in scoring runs quickly against the tweakers.
The left handed batsman ensured that England were dealing with the slow ballers well enough on a pitch that had something in it for them. It was now Australia’s chance to take a leaf out of England’s book from the first encounter of the series just a couple of days ago.
Australia were absolutely cruising to a victory in a game where they needed under 40 runs in the last six overs with as many as nine wickets in hand. Eoin Morgan’s bowling troops then scripted a miraculous comeback in what culminated into an embarrassing defeat for the Aussies.
At the halfway point of the chase, Richardson returned and so did Butler’s boundary hitting capabilities as the England opener sent one to the ropes for the first time since the last time he’d done at the end of the fifth over.
Australia lacked the penetration and vigour to get themselves the much needed breakthrough when Butler and Malan were not only denying them wickets – but were also accumulating runs at a healthy rate.
Pat Cummins was not hitting the proper lengths as the English duo were finding the gaps with ease and never allowing the required run rate to go out of hand.
Dawid Malan perished in attempting to clear the cow corner. But before the left arm spinner in Ashton Agar could celebrate much, Jos Butler struck him for consecutive fours – playing with the fielder at the off-side boundary by hitting one on either side of him. The English keeper batsman also brought up his fifty in the process. This brought down the equation to England needing 43 from the last six overs with eight wickets in hand.
While the asking rate – just above seven – wasn’t something that would’ve made Finch and his men feel comfortable, Mitchell Starc was brought back into the bowling to attack the new batsman in a young Tom Banton.
7. Agar’s Second Victim
Banton had to depart after making just two runs in the next over, becoming Ashton Agar’s second victim and keeping the door ever so slightly open for his side’s chances to level the series. The young batsman would rue the fact of not ceasing the opportunity to finish the game for his side after being at such a comfortable position in the match.
Small things like these go a long way in selection processes once all the regular members of the squad return and the selectors have the happy headache of filtering out players who haven’t done just enough to justify their inclusion in the squad.
It was in the hands of the experienced and senior players in the England batting line-up to get their team across the line when Captain Morgan joined forces with Jos Butler at the middle.
But Zampa finally struck when Morgan had to depart after Maxwell caught him in the covers. It was an absolutely identical dismissal in how Maxwell got out in the first game to Adil Rashid, with the English skipper completed the sharp catch at the same position. For all that England cared, they’d hope it wouldn’t be the beginning of a similar kind of a collapse that Australia had to suffer since Maxwell’s wicket in the first T20I match that ended up costing them the result and lead, changing the entire dynamics of the series.
Ashton Agar completed his bowling quota of the day with impactful figures of 2 for 27 throughout his four overs. In a match where Maxwell and Zampa were not able to exert the kind of pressure that’d put England on the backfoot, Agar’s contribution was immense in the context of the match.
8. End Thoughts
Australia did the squeezing well as the equation came down to 18 off 11 balls before Moeen Ali smashed a six and a four and left Butler to hit the finishing blow in what was an absolute monster hit. The England side reached the target with more than an over to spare.
England now has a chance to win the series 3-0. A clean sweep would mean that they will topple Australia as the top ranked T20I side in the world. That being said, even though the series result is a foregone conclusion, don’t expect Aussies to let the home side get it the easy way in the final match of the series.