Australia imploded in their quest for 163 to beat England in the opening T20I at the Ageas Bowl Southampton. First blood to England in a thriller that went all the way.
The Aussies who were playing their first international game since March, fell two runs short of their target.
Buttler gets England of to a flyer
Australia won the toss and put England in to bat. Jos Buttler- who had a good test series against Pakistan– got England off to a flyer with 44. At 43-1 after four overs the hosts had a solid platform to build on.
Off-spinner Ashton Agar put the brake on England by bagging the wickets of Butler(44) and Tom Banton(8). At the half way point England were 75-3 and looking to get a total of around 180.
The hosts continued to loose wickets with Glen Maxwell removing Eoin Morgan(5)in his opening over and Moeen Ali(2) shortly afterwards.
Malan to the rescue for England
It was down to a patient innings from Dawid Malan who made 66 before holing out to long off in the penultimate over. The hosts eventually mustered 162-7 in their allocated 20 overs.
In pursuit of their target of 163 openers Aaron Finch and David Warner moved swiftly towards a century partnership. Finch was particularly severe on Adil Rashid after smashing a six over midwicket and drilling two successive boundaries over cover.
England get the breakthrough thanks to Archer
England were bowling to short and it was down to Jofra Archer to make the breakthrough. The Sussex paceman- playing in his first T20I since the World Cup final- had Finch(46) caught at mid-off.
Steve Smith strode to the wicket and immediately hit Mark Wood for two boundaries in an over. Smith(18) played a rash shot off Rashid straight down deep midwicket’s throat to start an Australia collapse.
Australia panic under pressure
The Yorkshire leg spinner then had Maxwell(1) caught at short cover to grab two wickets in five balls. The England fightback was certainly on as Archer bowled Warner(58) to leave Australia requiring 34 off 28 balls.
Mark Wood bowled Alex Carey(1) with the wicket keeper completely beaten by pace. At that Point Australia had lost four wickets for nine runs in 14 balls.The collapse continued when Agar(4) was run out of the last ball of the penultimate over.
The visitors hopes of limping over the line rested solely on Marcus Stoinis. With 15 needed of the final over bowled by Tom Curran it was anybody’s game.
Stoinis kept the Aussies in the hunt with a six clubbed over cover to reduce the target to nine off four deliveries. But Curran held his nerve to concede only three runs of three balls.
It all comes down to the final ball
The final ball scenario meant a six would win it for Australia but a four would mean a super over. Curran produced what he does often under pressure by delivering the perfect yorker, and a narrow England victory.
Australia will be kicking themselves all the way back to Melbourne after throwing away victory. England once again have proved what a good side they are under pressure.
The home side excel in close finishes having won most of them. The visitors will have to regroup and forget that they only needed 35 off 39 balls with nine wickets in hand.
The sides meet again for the second T20I at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday in what promises to be another cracker.