It’s any day a sight to savor when two of the biggest rivals in world cricket lock horns with each other, and if that happens after months of global dormancy, the ecstasy unfolds at an altogether different level. Following the West Indies and Pakistan challenge, England is now hosting arch-rivals Australia for a limited over series, consisting of 3 T20Is and as many ODIs, where the ODIs form a part of the World Super League. The tour started with the T20Is, the first of which was played in the Rose Bowl, Southampton, on 4th of Sept. Australia won the toss and put the English to bat first. Riding on Dawid Malan’s wonderful half century and Tom Banton’s 44, England managed to score 162 runs with Kane Richardson and Maxwell toppling up the batting order after the powerplay. Australia retaliated well and were looking strong with both the openers, Finch and Warner hitting shots in all directions. But once both of them got out for 46 and 58 respectively, the English captain Eoin Morgan revived his team well in advance to win the match by a mere margin of 2 runs. In the second T20I as well, Malan struck well and scored 42 runs before falling prey to Ashton Agar. But it was Jos Buttler whose unbeaten 77 took England over the line. In the third T20, captain Morgan, who had earlier injured himself while fielding, rested and handed over the responsibility to Moeen Ali, who thus became the first ever Muslim player to lead the English team in any format of the game. Put to bat first, the star performer for England was Johny Bairstow who, after a disappointing run in the earlier matches, scored a quick half century to take the team to a respectable score of 146. For the Aussies, Adam Zampa took two wickets. In response, Australia was led from the front by the captain, Aaron Finch, who put on 39 runs on the board. At the business end, it was the partnership between Mitchell Marsh (39*) and Ashton Agar (16*) that dug deep to make Australia win the final game. The series thus ended 2-1 in favor of England.
Known for giving it back strongly, Australia started with a heavy hand against England in the ODI series, that forms a part of the World Super League, leading to the 2023 WC.
The first ODI was held on 11th of September in Manchester. Batting first, Australia suffered a heavy setback as both the openers, Warner (6) and Finch(16) retired cheaply. Struggling at 123/5, Glenn Maxwell (77) and Mitchel Marsh (73) scored two splendid half centuries to mark the highest 6th wicket partnership for Australia against England, with the help of which they managed to put 294 runs on the board. For England, Sam Billings was the lone wolf who scored a career best 118, but couldn’t shift the smiles to his camp, as England ultimately lost by 19 runs. Adam Zampa was the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets, while Josh Hazlewood picked 3. In the 2nd ODI, England batted first and put 231 runs on the board, all thanks to Eoin Morgan’s stabilizing 42, accompanied by Joe Root’s 39 off 73 balls. But, it was the 9th wicket partnership between Tom Curran and Adil Rashid that changed the tide, which was, prior to that, seemed to favour the visitors. Curran(37) and Rashid(35) put up a 76 run partnership for the 9th wicket. In response, except for Aaron Finch’s 73 and Marnus Labuschagne 48, the Australian batting lineup never looked settled and kept losing wickets in quick succession. Their innings ended in 207, thereby losing the game by 24 runs. For England, the pace trio of Archer, Woakes and Sam Curran struck hard, picking up 3 wickets each.
With the third game scheduled to be held on 16th of September, it would be an even more interesting watch as Australia would be looking to clinch the ODI series at least, after being unable to do so in the T20s, whereas England would be keen to respite them of the extra baggage on their return journey. Noteworthy, the contractual players of the eight IPL franchises are expected to head to the UAE, on 17th of September itself, following which they won’t be required to undergo further quarantine as they would be flying from one bio-bubble to another, as justified by the BCCI officials.
~By PLAWAN SARMA