Buttler seals win with a six
Jos Buttler watched the ball fly into the second tier of the Rod Bransgrove Pavilion, admiring a job well done, personally and by the team, as his sweetly struck six completed a resounding England victory.
Eoin Morgan’s team romped to a six-wicket victory with seven balls to spare to win the series, their first in T20 cricket against Australia. It renders tomorrow’s game a dead rubber as far as the series is concerned, but if England win they will topple Australia as No1 in the T20 rankings. Plenty to play for then.
Whereas the victory on Friday night was a case of Australia freezing with the game won, this was a commanding performance by England, set up by the pace of Jofra Archer and finished by Buttler, who is transferring his fine Test form to his favourite format of the game.
Archer and Buttler are two of the world’s biggest T20 names and why
England will be strong candidates to win this format’s World Cup next year. They are confident, natural performers capable of producing feats beyond others, giving Morgan belief his team can win from any position.
Buttler’s 77 off 54 balls was a combination of big hitting and precise placement all around the wicket, using the depth of his crease to hit yorkers for four, making it impossible for Aaron Finch to plug the gaps and defend his team’s below-par 157 for seven.
England coasted for most of their run chase, easing to 106 for two with an 87-run stand off 63 balls between Buttler and the consistent Dawid Malan. But when Malan fell for 42, and Tom Banton and Morgan perished trying to force the pace against the spinners, memories of Australia’s collapse came flooding back.
With 18 needed off two overs, England were wobbling ever so slightly, but Moeen Ali shrugged off the pressure to slot Adam Zampa for a straight six and a four to leave Buttler clear to swing without fear and whack the winning six.
The sight of Australian batsmen hopping around against high-class pace was encouraging for future engagements. David Warner was
out in the first over as Archer tucked him up for room and the ball flicked the glove on the way through to Buttler for a duck that a full house would have loved.
Australia were jumpy, Finch was almost run out before scoring taking a risky single and Archer was burning rubber, sending the ball down at 95.8mph in his second over.
With Mark Wood at the other end close to matching Archer’s pace and removing Alex Carey for two, this was engrossing stuff. Minds drifted inevitably to the Gabba next year, where England would love these two to be operating at full pelt in an Ashes Test.
Archer has been rejuvenated in these T20s, easing into his groove immediately, bowling more than 90mph and looking confident. His yorkers, slower balls and sheer pace make him the full T20 package. Not bowling behind James Anderson and Stuart Broad, helps. He looks a foot taller, playing for a captain who gives him maximum responsibility with the new ball and death overs.
With Wood dismissing Carey with another quick delivery, Australia were in trouble at three for two. Steve Smith pinched a boundary when Banton dived over the ball at deep midwicket, but more brainless cricket cost them as he took a silly single to mid-on, from where Morgan ran him out.
Striking with the new ball had been England’s weakness in T20, but here Australia were 30 for three after six overs and never recovered.
Morgan was excellent in the field and brave, too. His tactical decisions were spot on, seemingly moving fielders into the right place for catches, such as Marcus Stoinis’s edge off Adil Rashid to a slip he had just stationed there. His bowling changes brought success, bringing on Chris Jordan for the 19th over to remove a charging Glenn Maxwell.
It came at a personal cost. Morgan dislocated a finger on his right hand diving at cover. It was time to look away as the physio pulled it back into position. He swallowed a couple of painkillers and was soon back out directing play.
Jonny Bairstow gifted his wicket dislodging the bail on his downswing playing a hook to Mitchell Starc, but Malan is keeping Joe Root out of the side for a reason. Once past double figures he accelerates with powerful, orthodox shots, and his 42 came off 32 balls.
Ashton Agar’s two quick wickets, Malan caught at deep midwicket and Banton off a sweep, turned out to be blips that Buttler shrugged off.
Over and out: Jos Buttler clears the ropes as he carries his bat for 77 to wrap up England’s win in the second Twenty20 international against Australia, and with it the series
Pleasure That came after a fine effort in the field, summed up by Eoin Morgan’s run-out of Steve Smith
Spoils of battle: Jos Buttler shows off his man-of-thematch award after his dynamic innings Pain And that was even more impressive as Morgan had dislocated a finger