After the magnificent Aaron Finch show at The Rose Bowl, Australia went into the second T20 at Chester-le-Street high on confidence. However, T20 is such an unpredictable format that there are no favourites in any match. In that sense, England did exceedingly well to make a comeback and draw the series 1-1. Putting behind the pounding received in the earlier game, England’s batsmen as well as their bowlers stood up to the task to ensure that Australia came nowhere near to winning the game. The fact that the end victory margin was 27 runs gave a clear indication of England’s domination.
England’s superb opening partnership was what set up the victory for the hosts at Chester-le-Street. The game began with Finch’s world-record knock still hanging on England’s head, but Alex Hales and Michael Lumb combined in the partnership of the match to put their side in command. It was an excellent display of strokeplay and alliance. Lumb took the initiative early on even as Hales began in slightly cautious manner. Both however made sure that the run rate was always in control. Their 111-run opening stand in 11.2 overs put England firmly on top.
Lumb had a great opportunity to go on to a bigger score, but he fell after making an impressive 43 off 27 balls. England, however, did well to maintain the momentum ever after Lumb made an exit. Hales was particularly brilliant after Lumb’s departure. He picked up his pace exceedingly well, so much so that he ended up with a strike rate of 154. His tally of 11 fours and 2 sixes were a straightforward illustration of his domination. Hales would have been disappointed to miss out on a hundred yet again. He had been dismissed for 99 before, but his innings was spectacular nonetheless.
A couple of other cameos also aided England’s cause in setting up a big total. Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan improvised to the best of their capability as the Englishmen finished on an impressive 195 for 5. Australia’s bowlers were hugely disappointing barring Fawad Ahmed who, after a disappointing debut, had a fairy tale second game. He was highly effective, picking up three big wickets, and also keeping the runs down. Better was expected of the more experienced players though. Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson were particularly poor, which allowed England’s batsmen to get away.
Australia could still have made a match out of it had they got a good start. It wasn’t to be though. Expectations were high from Finch after his brilliance the other day, but this wasn’t to be his day, and Australia suffered because of the same. The fact that David Warner was the only one to cross the 50-mark hurt Australia’s chase. George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell flourished briefly, but it wasn’t enough to get Australia anywhere close to the target. Jade Dernbach, for the second game in a row, proved that he is not as bad a bowler as many rate him. Eventually, England were comfortable victors.
--By A Cricket Analyst