Cameos from D’Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch ensured Australia eased to a seven-wicket victory over England in Melbourne on Saturday (10 February), completing their 138-run chase without breaking a sweat.
Kane Richardson’s 3/33 had helped restrict England to 137/7 after David Warner opted to field, before all of Short (36), Lynn (31), Maxwell (39) and Finch, who hit two fours and as many sixes in his five-ball 20, helped complete the chase with 33 balls to spare.
The victory was Australia’s third on the trot in the Trans-Tasman triangular Twenty20 International series, and it meant they secured their place in the final, to be played in Auckland on 21 February.
It was Australia’s bowlers who set up the victory. An energetic field and a disciplined attack ensured the England openers were dismissed within the first three overs – Jason Roy was caught behind off Richardson for just eight, while Alex Hales managed just three before holing out off Billy Stanlake.
When a misunderstanding between Dawid Malan and James Vince then led to the former’s run-out, courtesy a brilliant one-handed pick-up and throw by Warner, England were reduced to 34/3.
Thereafter, Jos Buttler, standing in as captain after Eoin Morgan was ruled out with a groin strain, joined Vince at the crease and the duo added 36 runs for the fourth wicket. It was a crucial stand, and as long as they remained in the middle, England felt they could salvage something from the situation. However, Vince was bowled by Andrew Tye in the 11th over to leave England precariously placed at 70/4.
Sam Billings came in and looked comfortable. He seemed least affected by the slowness of the pitch, and scored a 26-ball 29, comprising four fours and a six in a 43-run stand with Buttler for the 5th wicket.
Billings’s holed out in the 18th over, and David Willey followed suit shortly thereafter, having hit two fours off his first five deliveries. Buttler himself holed out off the final ball of the innings for a 49-ball 46, with regular wickets never allowing England to accelerate.
It was straightforward for Australia thereafter. Warner’s poor form continued as he was caught behind off Willey, but an attacking 19-ball 31 by Lynn meant that England weren’t allowed to capitalise on that early wicket. Lynn found the fence four times and went over it twice before lobbing a catch to the ‘keeper off Jordan.
Then came Maxwell, who was at it from the word go. He collected 19 runs off one Adil Rashid over – the 11th of the innings – and ended with a 26-ball 39. He looked set to finish the game off but miscued one to the keeper off Jordan again. However, Finch walked in and wasted no time, sealing victory with consecutive sixes.
The series now moves on to New Zealand, where the home side and England will battle it out for a place in the final.