England are on the brink of a semi-final spot at the T20 World Cup
England 126 for 2 (Buttler 71*) beat Australia 125 (Finch 44, Jordan 3-17) by eight wickets
Australia’s lower order had in fact managed to plunder 50 from the last four overs of their innings, and the ball continued to fly to all parts as Buttler and Jason Roy got the England reply going. They raced to 66 for 0 from the first six overs – the highest powerplay score of the tournament so far – before Buttler and Jonny Bairstow finished the contest in a blaze of sixes, sending England clear at the top of Group 1 and to the brink of a semi-final spot.
Woakes bosses the powerplay (again)
In 2020, England’s attack had a powerplay problem, managing 10 wickets in 11 innings at an average of 60.00. In this tournament, they have picked up 10 from three at an average of 7.90, to go with an economy of 4.38. Their opponents’ scores after six overs have read: 31 for 4, 27 for 3 and now 21 for 3.
An opening spell of 3-0-7-2 took Woakes’ returns during the powerplay in the UAE to 4 for 29 from eight overs. With Jordan, bowling with the new ball for the first time at the tournament and picking up 1 for 6 from his two, England fully capitalised on bowling first on a slightly grassy surface and were able to dictate the pace of game from there on.
Shuffling the deck
Early success meant Eoin Morgan could save Tymal Mills for the second half of the innings – and although he was expensive, finishing with 2 for 45 from his four overs, Australia had sustained too much damage to be able to mount an effective recovery as conditions for batting eased. Finch battled through before finally falling to an excellent Bairstow catch in the 19th over, 44 off 49 his slowest T20I innings of more than 14 balls.
England’s chase was more of a saunter. Needing barely a run a ball, the openers quickly stamped their mark on proceedings. Roy charged Josh Hazlewood’s first ball, swatting four through mid-on, and then creamed Pat Cummins into the stands in the third over – Australia had taken until the 17th before they managed to clear the ropes. Buttler did the same to Ashton Agar, brought in for this game as a specialist bowling option but soon on a hiding to nothing.
Roy fell to Adam Zampa’s second ball after the powerplay, trapped lbw on review (one of the few things that went Finch’s way). But Buttler responded by smashing 4-4-6-1-2-4 off Mitchell Starc and Zampa, bringing up a 25-ball half-century in the ninth over; soon it became a range-hitting exercise, with one of Buttler’s blows measuring 105 metres. England needed 29 from 66 when Agar had Dawid Malan caught behind for 8, and the end came swiftly after, a third thumping win in a row for Morgan’s side.
Never mind the Ashes, England have the T20 World Cup firmly in their sights.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick