Australia blitz, Zampa guile leave England title defence in the balance

England

Australia 201 for 7 (Warner 39, Marsh 35, Head 34, Stoinis 30) beat England 165 for 6 (Buttler 42, Cummins 2-23, Zampa 2-28) by 36 runs

Australia outplayed England in Barbados to leave the defending champions sweating on their qualification for the Super 8s. They posted the highest score of the T20 World Cup to date after David Warner and Travis Head blitzed 70 runs in the first five overs, before Adam Zampa made the difference in England’s lacklustre run chase.

The result is not terminal for England’s title defence, but they have one point from their first two matches and face an anxious week ahead in Antigua. They will almost certainly need to beat both Oman (on Thursday) and Namibia (on Saturday), but even then would likely have to rely on net run rate to qualify for the second round ahead of Scotland.

The dimensions played a major role at Kensington Oval: one square boundary was nine metres shorter than the other, measured at just 58m. Australia targeted it, almost immediately. Will Jacks, surprisingly given the second over, conceded three sixes in his first four balls, all flying over the shorter leg-side boundary; Mark Wood’s first over from the same end also cost 22.

Australia’s total relied on cameos throughout their batting line-up rather than one substantial innings. Warner, likely facing England for the final time in international cricket, top-scored with 39 but everyone in their top five reached at least 28; Matthew Wade’s 10-ball 17 not out was another useful contribution from No. 7, taking Australia past 200.

England, by contrast, fell away badly after Zampa accounted for both of their openers – Jos Buttler and Phil Salt – inside his first 11 balls. They were 73 for 0 after seven overs but only managed 92 for 6 in the following 13, their middle order failing to adjust to a dry pitch quickly enough against a clinical Australian attack.

Head, Warner’s fast start

For the first time in their T20 history, England opened the bowling with spin from both ends. It didn’t work: Moeen Ali’s first over cost only three runs to Head and Warner, Australia’s left-handed opening pair, but Jacks – who had only bowled two overs in his 14 previous T20Is – was pumped over the short boundary three times in four balls.

Wood took over from Jacks at the same end and his first over was equally as expensive: he tried to tuck Warner up and bowl to his sweepers, but instead fed his strengths and was cracked over the short side for three more sixes and a four. Moeen broke through when a ball skidded under Warner’s bottom edge, but only after conceding two fours and a six in his second over.

Jofra Archer was the quickest England bowler to adjust to the conditions, using his slower balls and dragging his length back, and could celebrate a first international wicket in Barbados when his offcutter burst through Head and hit middle and off stumps. Even still, Australia’s 74 for 2 was their highest powerplay at a men’s T20 World Cup.

Australia’s strong finish

England started to drag things back when the field spread, though Mitchell Marsh continued to find the boundary. He nailed a pull over midwicket and onto the solar panels on the roof of a stand off Adil Rashid, and swung Archer over the leg-side boundary after the mid-innings drinks break.

Glenn Maxwell’s 28 off 25 was his joint-highest T20 score since February but he and Marsh fell within four balls of one another: Marsh was stumped by Buttler at the second attempt off Livingstone’s legspin, and Maxwell picked out deep midwicket off Rashid. At 142 for 4 in the 15th over, Australia needed a strong finish.

But Marcus Stoinis, Tim David and Wade ensured they reached 200 with regular boundaries at the back end and England became ragged in the field: Rashid threw his hands up in frustration when Stoinis picked up four from a toe-ended reverse-sweep, Archer and Jonny Bairstow leaving the ball to one another at point and backward point.

Zampa makes the difference

England’s openers looked to maximise the powerplay, with Buttler using his feet to target Josh Hazlewood and Salt launching a 106-metre six off his Kolkata Knight Riders team-mate Mitchell Starc. The seventh over, Starc’s third, then cost 19: Head caught Salt at deep third but while stepping on the boundary, and Buttler picked off a six then a four.

But on a dry surface, Zampa was the key bowler and struck with his first ball, which crashed into the top of Salt’s off stump as he looked to create room to cut. In Zampa’s second over, Buttler swung him down the ground for six but then reverse-swept straight to Pat Cummins at point, leaving 109 required off the final 10 overs.

Will Jacks cracked one boundary off Cummins but then picked out Starc at long-off, who took an excellent diving catch off Stoinis, and Bairstow looked short on rhythm throughout his 13-ball 7. Moeen briefly threatened something special, hitting three sixes in a Maxwell over, but the required rate proved insurmountable.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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