Australia 5 for 161 (Maxwell 103*, Short 30, Willey 3-28) beat England 9 for 155 (Malan 50, Maxwell 3-10, Agar 2-15) by 5 wickets
An outstanding allround display by Glenn Maxwell drove Australia to two wins from as many matches in the T20 triangular series, after England squandered a powerful start to their innings having been sent in by the hosts’ stand-in captain David Warner.
Wickets were followed by runs to guide the Australians home for the second time in as many matches, though Maxwell was fortunate to be reprieved when 53 were still required with six wickets in hand. Lofting Adil Rashid down the ground, he appeared to be caught low down by Jason Roy, but stood his ground for the third umpire to grant Maxwell a second chance as television replays were, as they so often are, inconclusive. He made the most of it, striking a six to win the game and also reach three figures.
Whatever their thoughts about the catch, England had been wasteful in slipping from 1 for 60 after six overs to only 9 for 155, restricted largely by the spin bowling of Maxwell and Ashton Agar, plus the slower-ball variations of Kane Richardson and AJ Tye. Together they counterbalanced an expensive outing for Billy Stanlake, who did not adjust to a Bellerive Oval surface that offered less encouragement for speed than the SCG had done.
Australia’s pursuit of the target was unbalanced early when David Willey accounted for Warner and Chris Lynn in the space of three balls, but Maxwell mounted game aware stands with D’Arcy Short and then Travis Head to secure victory. Maxwell’s contribution was his second in as many matches, following a summer in which he had spent far more time outside the Australian set-up than in it.
Willey’s use of the new ball had given England a chance, but Rashid was by a distance the best of England’s bowlers, flighting the ball teasingly and spinning it both ways to deceive more than one Australian batsman. The turn extracted from the Hobart pitch also raised the question about whether Liam Dawson’s slow left-arm might have been useful.
Warner made his intentions known from the first ball of the pursuit, flat-batting Willey down the ground, but to the second he arrowed a pull shot straight at deep square leg. Lynn, having spoken so freely about quitting the long form of the game, showed himself incapable of dealing with the moving ball, uncertain when jamming down on Willey’s first inswinger then clueless when bowled off his pads by the second.
These early incisions gave England a chance, but Short and Maxwell were not unduly concerned by the required run rate and so were able to play with relative comfort in their distinctive styles. Short crashed the biggest six of the night, a roasting pull shot off Willey, while Maxwell found multiple ways to and over the boundary in manners both orthodox and Maxwellian. The pair seemed capable of driving Australia all the way to their target, but Rashid intervened with an exceptional, one-handed return catch to intercept a Short drive drilled straight back at the leg spinner.
Stoinis struggled to pick Rashid’s variations early in his innings and then miscued an attempt to muscle Mark Wood down the ground, but the required rate was barely seven an over and Maxwell was in apparent control. His misjudgment of Rashid’s flight should have resulted in his dismissal, but the limitations of television replays offered Maxwell the breathing room he needed to carry the Australians home with assistance from a composed Alex Carey. It was comfortable enough for Maxwell to monopolise the strike at the end and so go onto his second T20I hundred.
Following an opening victory over New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday, Australia made one change to their XI, recalling Head in the wake of his Big Bash League heroics for Adelaide Strikers in the place of the wrist spinner Adam Zampa. England were able to include all of Alex Hales, Roy and Chris Jordan after injury concerns although Liam Plunkett remained sidelined.
A slower Hobart surface did not provide Stanlake the assistance he had enjoyed in Sydney, and his speed and length provided welcome pace on the ball for Hales and Dawid Malan after Roy had misjudged an early slower ball from Richardson and popped a catch to cover. England skated to 1 for 60 at the end of the Powerplay, with Stanlake suffering most of the punishment.
However the game was changed by the introduction of the canny Agar, who drew a closed bat face and a return catch from Hales with his first ball – completing the catch despite being unsighted due to the non-striker Malan. Head’s first over cost an unsightly 14 and forced Warner to try Maxwell instead, a decision that brought welcome dividends when an off break held back slightly brought a skier from Eoin Morgan and a comfortable catch for Australia’s captain.
Malan, in contrast to his persevering efforts in the Tests, was playing a brilliant attacking innings, finding the cover boundary with particular relish, but wickets were starting to fall regularly and the run rate began to slow. Jos Buttler punched a Stoinis slower ball to mid off, Billings presented Agar with another front edge caught and bowled when he returned to the attack, and Malan’s innings was ended when he failed to clear deep square leg. When Willey ran down the pitch to Maxwell and failed to repeat the blows than had taken 34 from a Nathan Lyon over in England’s Canberra warm-up match, Australia were very much in control.
Rashid and Curran offered high catches to maintain the slide, and only a fruitful heave at Tye by Jordan eked England beyond 150. Thanks largely to Maxwell, and more than a little help from television footage, it was not to be enough.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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