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AUS vs ENG, T20 World Cup 2024: Zampa headlines clinical Australia’s 36-run demolition of defending champion England

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For the defending champion, England, the Group B T20 World Cup match against Australia was yet another reality check in white-ball cricket in an 18-month period that has seen a stream of them, and the frustration at times seemed to overwhelm it.

The winner of the 2021 edition deservedly dispatched England in a comfortable 36-run win at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Sunday.

To truly vindicate its decision to chase, England needed a burst of energy at the top as it set off after the 202-run target. Typically, Jos Buttler would be the go-to weapon in such situations, but Phil Salt, fresh from a spectacular Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, stepped up. Alongside his skipper, Salt exploited the slightly skewed dimensions of the ground, helping England reach 50 inside the first six overs.

AS IT HAPPENED | AUS vs ENG HIGHLIGHTS

Amid this conscious acceleration, Adam Zampa (two for 28), the uber-talented wrist-spinner, delivered a remarkable demolition job, rattling England’s chase in just 12 balls. Salt was the first to fall in the eighth over, clean bowled attempting a cut shot off a slider on the middle stump. Buttler tried to counter Zampa by hitting a six and employing reverse sweeps, but he was caught at backward point for a 28-ball 42. Zampa almost got a third when Jonny Bairstow chipped his first ball over cover. 

Neil Diamond’s 1969 single, “Sweet Caroline”, rang out in the stands each time a boundary was hit, only for the build-up to the chorus “Sweet Caroline, ba, ba, ba!” to be drowned in collective disappointment when an English wicket fell.

During this momentum-jarring phase, England needed a reassuring presence to soothe frayed nerves. Moeen Ali, the lone left-hander in the XI, was promoted to make the most of the short boundary, and he did so by smacking Glenn Maxwell for three sixes in the 14th over. But Bairstow’s frustrated dismissal and Moeen’s exit, forced by Pat Cummins’ (two for 23) excellent wide line to shield the short boundary, proved to be the final nails in England’s coffin.

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Earlier, England won the toss on a fresh but barren pitch and chose to bowl. Australia’s left-handers, Travis Head and David Warner, exploited the short leg-side boundary, launching a spectacular assault on Will Jacks and Mark Wood, scoring 22 runs each. The solar panels on the Greenidge & Haynes Stand took a pounding, highlighting the pitfalls of over-relying on matchup strategies, as Buttler’s use of part-time off-spinner Jacks against two dynamic left-handers backfired. England’s pacers’ tactic to restrict Warner and Head by bowling a leg-stump line also resulted in easy runs due to poor lengths.

Moeen dismissed Warner for 39 off 16 balls with a delivery that kept low, while Jofra Archer (one for 28) removed Head for 34 off 18 balls with a cutter. In fact, Archer was one of the few English bowlers who figured out the slowish nature of the pitch and quickly resorted to variations. That said, despite these breakthroughs, Australia amassed 74 runs in six overs, its highest PowerPlay total in a T20 World Cup.

With the field spreading, England slowed Australia’s progress, allowing only 28 more runs by the 10-over drinks break. However, Mitchell Marsh and Maxwell maintained the momentum, adding 65 off 49 for the third wicket before falling in consecutive overs. England quicks had tried bowling a wide line to Maxwell to protect the short boundary, but the half-volleys only allowed Maxwell to hit through the long side with ease.

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England’s ground fielding also left much to be desired. Bairstow’s slow approach to a mistimed swipe from Maxwell in the 13th over meant a potential catch went begging, while an amateurish mix-up between Bairstow and Archer in the 18th over allowed Marcus Stoinis to score four runs.

Stoinis eventually fell to Chris Jordan for a 17-ball 30, marking Jordan’s 100th wicket in T20Is, making him the second England player to reach this milestone, following Adil Rashid. Meanwhile, Matthew Wade’s eight-ball cameo helped Australia reach the first 200 score of the competition, and ultimately a winning one.

England’s defeat means the next two games are must-wins for it, also bringing Net Run Rate into the picture. Australia now travels to Antigua for its next match against Namibia on June 11, while England plays there too, against Oman on June 13. 

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