England hand Australia a huge reality check

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30 Oct 2021 | 05:08 PM
authorAakash Sivasubramaniam

England hand Australia a huge reality check

Both the sides entered this fixture unbeaten, but England proved that there is only one dominant force

If Australia had set a template of how white-ball cricket was to be played in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, England are now really stepping up their white-ball game to a level where it can be labeled total domination. And a lot of it has to do with how aggressive and progressive they have been as a unit, with bat and ball. 

Even if their pacers conceded 40 runs from the first four overs, they have the likes of Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan to restrict the batting unit. On their best day, like on Saturday, England get off the blocks in such a manner which leaves the opposition shell-shocked. Australia were breathless, clueless and maybe even overwhelmed by the occasion. 

England might not look like the most formidable side on paper but their performance as a well-oiled unit makes the best of teams’ tremble, forget Australia. Coming into this clash, the Kangaroos had won two out of two, people suddenly hailed them as this massive catapult of a side who will come as a shocker in Group one but the reality remains that the Aaron Finch-led side are far away from a force to be reckoned with. 

Australia showing against England was a perfect example of how they were a side waiting for that reality check. In a fitting manner, Australia started the 2019 World Cup in England in pretty similar fashion, off the blocks quickly only to be met by the wall in the form of the Three Lions, who were head and shoulders above any other side. 

Restricting Australia to 21 in the powerplay? Check! Bowling out Australia? Check! Off to a blazing start with the bat? Check! England literally checked everything on their list in Dubai. So where was the game won and lost? 

England’s merry powerplay run with the ball

In all of the three games that England have played thus far, their record in the powerplay has been the best in the tournament. Across the games in this year’s competition, the Three Lions have picked up ten wickets in the first six overs phase, only behind sides who have played the additional qualifier stage (Scotland, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), conceding just 4.4 RPO, the best in this year’s T20 World Cup. 

Integral to their plans in the powerplay has been the resurgence of Chris Woakes, who since his return in the T20I format has been god-level. Since 2019, the all-rounder has just conceded three boundaries off his bowling in the powerplay. Just THREE! All five of his wickets in the shortest format has come in the powerplay phase, averaging 8.4, showcasing how Test match line and length, just like Josh Hazlewood, remains effective. 

His performance against Australia was yet another example of what he has up his sleeves. The all-rounder dismissed both David Warner and Glenn Maxwell in the powerplay phase, which really pushed Australia’s hopes of a good total way beyond their reach. 

Spinners weave magic around Australian batters

8 overs, 34 runs, two wickets – was what the English spinners, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid returned with in Dubai, one of the most pace-friendly condition in the Middle East. The two wickets that they got were off Australian batters’ poor judgement of what was in front of them. Marcus Stoinis missed a straightforward googly, which went straight past his bat to crash into the pads in front of the stumps.

On the other hand, Matthew Wade, in the 12th over of the innings, as the last recognized batter decided to waltz his way down the ground to clear the boundary against Livingstone, when Australia were struggling at 51/4. That is how Australia played spin, an area that has continuedly haunted them in the tournament. Now the real question being: are Australia really favourites, considering how they lack in multiple areas? 

Another aspect that the Kangaroos would look to improving in the future is playing together as a group for longer periods of time. Coming into the tournament, the first-choice playing XI hadn't played more than one game together. Compare that to England, who have ten players playing over the last year and half together. 

England’s batting template is overpowering

It doesn’t matter if the total is 250, 160 or 56, the Three Lions know only one approach with the bat: go all guns blazing. Any sane side would have come out and played a few deliveries off the bat before deciding to dance around with the bowlers but English batters are just different species. They know only one way and that is skyway. 

In comparison with Australia’s powerplay score (21), the Three Lions openers scored 66 runs in the first six overs. It wasn’t just one bowler who was attacked, it was all of them - Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Agar; you name it. It was the purest form of attack, it was the highest order of attacking display against the white-ball. Jason Roy-Jos Buttler remain integral part of their plans and their batting showed exactly why they are one of the most feared pairs in the competition. 

Now, there is a real chance that they can walk away with the Cup and no one in world cricket will even bat an eye with surprise. And if you think it stopped after the powerplay, nope. Buttler continued to tonk his way out of the ground, at a strike-rate of nearly 200 all through the game, getting to his half-century off just 25 balls. 

Australia were clueless, started that way, were like that during the clash and ended that way. Perhaps, it took more time to retrieve the ball in the second innings than it took for the English batters to get past the total. 

Net Run-rate what?

With this win, England have more or less sealed their place in the semi-final of the competition, with three wins out of their three clashes in the competition. Not just that, walking into this clash, their net run-rate was already well and above 3 and with this win, it might very well eke all the other teams out of the park. 

In a group that had the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies, two of them who have won the T20 World Cup in the past, England’s approach of going all guns blazing has really set them apart. Now it might be a reality that their run may come crashing down at one point but with how they are performing, it would take a performance and half from the other sides to stop England. 

You know what’s the scariest part? They are without the services of Sam Curran, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, have Mark Wood missing games due to injury and have an amazing bunch of players on the bench. All this and yet the XI on the field are putting out performances that are unparalleled. And with this win, they are +3.95 above all the sides in Group 1. 

England are the new force in white-ball cricket, they have one trophy to back that up with, but now they are CHARGING, not just walking towards another one.

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England vs AustraliaICC World Twenty20, 2021AustraliaEnglandJason RoyJos ButtlerAdil RashidLiam Livingstone

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