This summer has produced rather mixed bag results for Australia’s run machine Steve Smith. While Smith was the leading run getter on either side in the Ashes, he could not save his side from a humiliating 3-2 series defeat. Agonizingly for Smith, this trend continued even in the one off T20I between the two sides.
On his T20I captaincy debut, Smith won the toss, and being in two minds regarding the nature of the deck, opted to bowl first and put England in. That decision seemed to have reaped great rewards as Pat Cummins bossed the English openers. By the end of the fourth over, England had lost both its openers and it was Cummins who accounted for both the scalps.
However, Australia’s optimism was to end at that very moment. Skipper Eoin Morgan and all rounder Moeen Ali got together for one of the finest partnerships in T20I cricket. Morgan was at his destructive best as he got on top of the Australian bowlers. The likes of Watson, Mitchell Marsh and Maxwell were treated with utter humiliation as the two southpaws went about their demolition job. Wrist spinner Cameron Boyce could only get a solitary over as he was thrashed for 19 runs. Morgan was dismissed for 74 off 39 by Nathan Coulter-Nile as a solid 135 run stand was broken.
England ended their innings on 182-5 in the 20 overs. Moeen Ali remained unbeaten till the end as his knock of 72 off 46 sailed England to a mammoth score. For Australia, Pat Cummins was the pick of the bowlers as he was among the wickets and was economical as well.
Like England, Australia too lost both its openers quickly before a vital third wicket stand rescued the team from misery. Australia’s skipper Steve Smith played a delightful knock, as he in collaboration with the “Big Show” Glenn Maxwell sent the English bowlers in a tizzy. Australia were well set to run away with the game, before the man with the golden arm, Moeen Ali struck to dismiss Glenn Maxwell. More than Ali, it was Stokes’ wicket as he took an absolute blinder of a catch.
Australia’s lower order did not contribute much, and Smith soon began running short of partners. Smith himself was dismissed in the penultimate over, with 18 needed of 9 balls. Australia needed 12 off the last over as Ben Stokes was entrusted the responsibility from England’s perspective. A run out on the very first ball was just what England needed as Wade was dismissed. That was followed by a fine yorker, which yielded a dot. With 9 needed off 3, England were almost there. Two run outs on consecutive deliveries sealed the game as England won by 5 runs.
This game was very similar to the T20I played between England and India last year at Birmingham. Back then, India too had a similar target but Virat Kohli got them off to a flier. But a monumental choke from the lower middle order handed England back the game.