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It was a win set up by Chris Woakes’ involvement in three early wickets, and finished off by a staggering innings of 71 from 32 balls (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 gone better. England won a vital toss – chasing sides have won 12 of 13 matches in the Super 12s – and bowled Australia out for 125, which is actually the highest total they have conceded in their three matches this tournament. Just like against West Indies and Bangladesh, they chase it down with plenty to spare. Their net run-rate remains excellent, while Australia’s took one hell of a hit. South Africa and the Windies will be delighted.
It was a game that shared spooky parallels with these teams’ meeting in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. England made a stunning start, inspired by Chris Woakes. Adil Rashid dismissed Marcus Stoinis for a duck with a ripping googly. Australia never fully recovered, and set England an underpar target. They knocked it off with disdain, two down.
England wasted little time getting stuck in. Rashid was handed the first over rather than his great mate Moeen Ali – because Aaron Finch is a fearsome spinner of off-spin – Woakes got to work, again.
First, he had David Warner fishing outside off-stump. Then he plucked a wonderful one-handed catch, peddling back at mid-on, to see off Steve Smith, with Chris Jordan the bowler. In his second over, Woakes pinned Glenn Maxwell lbw, England’s 10th powerplay wicket in three matches. First ball after the powerplay, Rashid pinned Stoinis lbw; little appears to baffle Stoinis quite like Rashid’s wrong’un.
Australia had dropped Mitch Marsh to accommodate Ashton Agar’s left-arm spin, so the fall of Stoinis meant the bowlers were just one wicket away. It was left to Finch and Matthew Wade to rebuild, nudging 30 runs in 33 balls.
But as soon as Wade played a big shot, down the ground off Liam Livingstone, he perished caught at long-on. Livingstone bowled superbly, and completed his four-over allocation for the first time in T20 internationals, conceding just 15 runs. With Finch at the crease, it meant Moeen – so good in the opening two games – was not required.
Agar proved a productive partner for Finch, who began to find the boundary. Agar launched two sixes – the first of the innings – as Woakes’ final over cost 20. The next over, from Tymal Mills, went for 15, although Agar was caught on the fence. Pat Cummins whacked his first two balls for stunning sixes.
In the following over, Jordan’s last, he dismissed Finch and Cummins (for a three-ball 12) in successive balls, to finish with three for 17. Mills bowled the last, and his frustrating night continued, although he ran out Adam Zampa and had Mitchell Starc caught behind to bowl Australia out. Finch and the lower order had done well to scramble to 125, but it looked way under par.
By the time the powerplay was over, England were more than halfway there. Jason Roy, who had hit one staggering six off Cummins, was dismissed on review in Zampa’s first over to end a stand of 66, but Buttler continued on his merry way. He launched enormous successive sixes off Starc, then was especially brutal on Adam Zampa.
So too was Jonny Bairstow, who joined him to finish the job after Dawid Malan came and went. For the second time in the tournament, Bairstow hit the winning runs in a very convincing victory.