3rd T20 Recap
Aaron Finch once again won the toss and decided to field first.
In the absence of Jos Buttler, Tom Banton came up to open the batting but was dismissed early on by Hazlewood. Jonny Bairstow struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking initially. Dawid Malan who has been incredibly consistent got a start but did not convert. Sam Billings who made his first appearance in this series failed to make an impression. The spinners bowled well in the middle overs as Bairstow was dismissed soon after this fifty. Captain Moeen Ali and Joe Denly tried to get a few big blows away but Starc in particular was brilliant in the death overs as Australia restricted England to 145/6 in 20 overs which was well under par.
In return, Australia had Matthew Wade opening with Finch who looked in great touch. Particularly one shot that he flicked for 6 of Archers bowling has to go down as one of the shots of the summer. He was however dismissed soon after that by Wood and Stoinis joined Finch in the middle as both the batsman took on the English bowlers and runs were flowing. Once the pace was taken off the ball, Australia were not able to continue with the same momentum. Marcus Stoinis was dismissed after a positive start and Maxwell who walked out at number 4 ahead of Smith did not make use of the opportunity losing his wicket to Adil Rashid for the second time in the series. Aaron Finch was deceived by a googly from Rashid and Steve Smith who was expected to take Australia home fell on the last ball of Adil Rashid’s brilliant spell. As Australia were at 100/5 in 13 overs, it looked like they were on the verge of yet another terrible collapse after the first game. But Mitch Marsh who was playing his first game of the series batted sensibly after getting a bit of luck early on. He was ready to rotate the strike and wait for the pacers to come back into the attack to hit the big shots. Agar supported him as well and Australia went on to win with 3 balls remaining.
Australia won the match and kept their number 1 T20 ranking, but England won this series 2-1.
Just Cricket’s thoughts
Australia went out with a much better plan today. Firstly, they made the right decision at the toss to field first. Finch handled his bowlers very well and Australia were brilliant in the field as well. The catch that Stoinis took to get the wicket of Malan and the one that Smith took to dismiss Moeen Ali were spectacular. Coming out to bat, it was a good move to send Marcus Stoinis at number 3 which is where he is better suited.
It was however surprising to see Maxwell come out ahead of Steve Smith who should not really bat below 4. They have not played Adil Rashid well which they have to address. In the three matches, Rashid has got wickets on the last ball of his spell on every occasion which shows lack of game awareness from Australia.
Maxwell’s change in technique to bat with a much more open stance feels like its restricting his play. This technique might work better in the long run but at the moment looks like this technique is designed to overcome a bit of weakness he had against the short bowling and also to hit anything on the middle and leg stump out of the park. But it seems to be affecting the orthodox off side play without much feet movement. Aaron Finch found the same problem in the first match where he was trying to hit a full ball outside off stump over mid off with his feet well outside leg stump and hence was not able to generate enough momentum to clear the fielder.
Australia have been successful over the last couple of years in T20 cricket and have backed playing 5 genuine bowlers, but since they have the luxury of having bowling options like Stoinis, Marsh and Maxwell, they can afford to go with an extra batsman which should lengthen their batting line up.
England managed to come back well again with Adil Rashid in the middle overs but they were underwhelming in the field. There were a number of missed opportunities which could have changed the result. The throwing was also very sloppy and this aspect really made the difference in the end.
It was also surpassing to see Archer not bowling the 19th over. Although he was expensive till that point, he was the only one with the ability to extract a wicket when Australia needed less than a run a ball.
On the whole, it was a great series between two very competitive sides. Australia will regret throwing away the first match, but with the win in the last match, they should go into the one day series with a positive attitude. England on the other hand will expect Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan to come back into the team which will make them favorites.