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Match Analysis

Australia punch and counterpunch to blow England away

Their left-hand openers took on offspinners and their ace legspinner defied match-ups to script Australia's victory

Melinda Farrell
England had played at total of 185 T20Is until this game, going back to their first 20-over match on June 13, 2005. It was, of course, against Australia.
On that summer's day, after batting first, they opened their bowling with Darren Gough and Jon Lewis. Pace and medium pace. In the 19 years that followed, a seamer has bowled at least one of the two opening overs.
Until their 186th T20 International. Against Australia, of course.
There was some logic to the decision to open with a pair of offspinners. The pitches at the Kensington Oval have tended to favour pace off and Australia open their batting with two left-hand batters; it's all about the match-ups, innit?
First up, it's Moeen Ali vs Travis Head, around the wicket to maximise the angle. Moeen gives it some air and Head plays with caution, dot, two, dot. The fourth delivery has a dash of extra spice off the deck and although Head plays it late, he is beaten by the turn and bounce and the ball passes perilously close to his off stump. Another dot ball and then Head works a single on the final delivery. Australia have scored just three runs off the first over; this is just the start England were looking for.
Now it's time for Will Jacks vs Travis Head. It's Jacks' first over of the tournament, his services not required for England's opening washout against Scotland. He has plenty of experience bowling in domestic T20s and only a month ago he was tweaking for Royal Challenges Bengaluru in the IPL.
But he has only bowled 12 deliveries for his country in T20s and now he has been asked to contain Head, to continue the early squeeze against one of the world's most explosive batters. The task is made more challenging by the cross winds blowing towards the short boundary on the leg side.
Head nails the slog sweep, hitting hard against the spin and the ball sails over the rope. Jacks tosses up another for the same result, a double-whammy that ignites both the crowd and Australia's innings. A desperate dive from Mark Wood at deep third saves a boundary next ball, but that only gives Warner the strike, a man who can sense any vulnerability in a bowler and punish it mercilessly.
It's in his arc and Warner shows no clemency, heaving it into the crosswind for a third six. Jacks drops his head into his hands. At the end of the over he has conceded 22 runs and England's miserly start has been blown apart by Australia's nuclear War-ner-Head; Jacks will not bowl again.
The gambit may have failed but it would be harsh to lay all the blame on Jacks. Warner and Head have bullied more experienced bowlers and set about doing so now. Warner chews up Wood's pace and spits it out over the boundary on the same leg side three times and it's another 22-run over. The uncovered party stand is directly opposite the Greenidge & Haynes Stand but it is in the latter where the crowd are having the most fun as the ball lands in their midst, again and again.
And Head is the victor when Moeen returns, pummelling the first two balls down the grounds for four then six. Warner clatters one through midwicket for four then misses a ball that skids through low and into his stumps. He walks off, perhaps for the last time against England but he has treated their bowlers with contempt as he has done so many times throughout his career.
Just five overs gone and Australia's muscular, moustachioed lefties have plundered 70 runs. Head lasts just another four balls before Jofra Archer, switching to slower deliveries and offcutters, splatters his stumps in all directions. But the platform has been set; Australia's remaining batters can now capitalise on the Head-Warner mauling.


Australia have been considerate enough - for run-rate junkies - to post 201. It makes it easy to calculate after each over; England are behind, England are just in front, no wait, they've just dropped back again.
But they're there or thereabouts thanks to the Phil a-Salt and Jos Buttler battering, and after seven overs England are 73 for 0. Bang on the RRR money.
Mitchell Marsh has used his big pace bowlers until this point but with England's platform solidifying dangerously, he turns to his legspinner.
Adam Zampa had effectively ended England's miserable 2023 World Cup campaign, ripping out their middle order as he sent Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen back to the Ahmedabad dressing room. Now he must rip out their openers.
He is not the most extravagant turner of the ball, but he exercises the same degree of precision with his variations of pace and the execution of his googly as he does measuring out the grains in his beloved daily coffee.
But Zampa has never dismissed Buttler and never bowled to Salt in T20Is. Buttler has faced 27 of Zampa's deliveries and smashed them for 50 runs. Is it really all about the match-ups?
His first delivery skids and straightens enough to zip past Salt's attempted swat off the back foot. It barely kisses the off-stump bail, just enough for it to be the kiss of death for Salt, who stares at the offending twig lying on the ground, bewildered as to how it got there.
In Zampa's next over, Buttler pounces on a full delivery and mauls it over the long-off boundary. But Zampa is rarely fazed when he cops the odd blow. He has carried the mantle of Australia's best white-ball spinner for long enough to know that when he is taking some tap, the counterpunch is just around the corner.
And so it is. The very next ball Buttler falls into a trap, attempting a reverse sweep that goes straight to Pat Cummins at backward point.
The solid platform has been weakened; Australia's remaining bowlers and scoreboard pressure can now capitalise on Zampa's double-strike.

Melinda Farrell is a journalist and broadcaster