Australia v England, ICC U-19 World Cup, Townsville August 11, 2012

Australia begin campaign with six-wicket win

Australia Under-19 147 for 4 (Head 57*) beat England Under-19 143 (Sandhu 3-27, Turner 3-30) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Defending champions Australia opened their Under-19 World Cup campaign with a comprehensive victory against England, set up by a powerful fast-bowling performance on a quick pitch in Townsville. Their top order struggled against the new ball during the chase, but that wobble was shored up by Travis Head and the captain William Bosisto, who played mature innings and shared a match-winning partnership.

The tournament began in idyllic conditions. The Tony Ireland Stadium on the outskirts of town, surrounded by grass banks, trees and hills, was bathed in sunshine under a cloudless sky. A cool breeze blew through the day to take the edge off the sun. In perfect weather for cricket watching, a fair number of spectators turned up even though this tournament has had little publicity in Australia. Not many cheered when Bosisto won the toss, but that little bit of luck was important given the pace and bounce in the pitch.

Australia's opening bowlers - the left-right combination of Joel Paris and Mark Steketee - struck in their first overs. Paris, bowling with the wind, trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond, who had made 91 in the warm-up against Pakistan and is one of England's premier batsmen, leg before for a duck with an inswinger. In this extremely professional environment, there was a reminder that the competitors are only young boys when Bell-Drummond came into the grandstand and got a consoling hug from his father, who has made the trip to watch his son play.

Steketee, who ran into the stiff wind, took two balls to bowl Ben Foakes, who had made a hundred in the Pakistan warm-up but shouldered arms today to another inswinger. Paris and Steketee bowled with impressive stamina, sustaining pace and bounce through seven-over opening spells. By the time their partnership ended, England were 56 for 3 after 14.

There was no let-up in intensity from Australia, though. Gurinder Sandhu, who had taken a five-wicket haul that included a hat-trick in the warm-up against Scotland, bowled faster and with more hostility than his team-mates. He was economical too and had figures of 5-1-9-1 at one stage, having induced an edge from Aneesh Kapil with a short ball.

Soon more England batsmen were walking through the grandstand, not to meet family but to review their performance with the team analyst seated on the terrace: a reminder of how professional the boys have to be. Craig Overton held up one end for a while, hitting the legspinner Shane Cassell for boundaries, but the offspinner Ashton Turner broke England in two balls, dismissing Ben Duckett and Sam Wood in succession.

Sandhu's first spell was long too - it included the crucial wicket of Craig Overton for 35 - and he was quick to the very end, hitting the other Overton twin, Jamie, on the body with an accurate short ball in his eighth over on the trot.

England lasted only 38.3 overs, which meant Australia were chasing before the lunch break. In those 6.5 overs, Reece Topley broke Jimmy Peirson's middle stump, which one of the substitutes took off the ground, presumably to keep as a souvenir. Topley was fast but Jamie Overton was faster, getting balls to bounce as well. One flew over the keeper's head. He and Topley struck again to reduce Australia to 30 for 3 by the time it was time for lunch.

Australia lost another quickly after the break - the promising Kurtis Patterson - but things were about to improve. Bosisto did what was needed, to stay at the wicket, while Head scored quickly to take the pressure off. Head had made 87 off 42 balls against Scotland and today he ensured that Australia did not stagnate in a challenging situation.

Head brought up his half-century off 52 balls and, shortly after measured celebrations, he lofted Craig Overton over the long-on boundary to seal victory with the first six of the match. It was no mean effort. The boundaries at the Tony Ireland Stadium are large.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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