England have nearly reached the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup after Jos Buttler’s astonishing batting secured their overwhelming eight-wicket win against Australia on Saturday.
Buttler smashed a thrilling 71 not out off 32 balls after the Aussies were bowled out for a below-par 125. The English side made it third win in a row in 11.4 overs.
Eoin Morgan’s team, bidding to become the first side to hold both the 50-overs and 20-overs World Cups at the same time, top the group after a hat-trick of victories, followed by Australia and South Africa with two wins each.
Earlier, Morgan elected to field after winning the toss and to everyone’s surprise opened the attack with Rashid Khan. The ploy did not work but England had no reasons to complain as Chris Woakes turned tormentor-in-chief to leave Australia reeling on 15-3 inside four overs.
Woakes dismissed David Warner with his second ball, took a one-handed catch near the ring to send back Steve Smith, and trapped Glenn Maxwell lbw to mow down Australia’s top order.
Rashid returned to remove Marcus Stoinis and Australia captain Aaron Finch could only watch from the other end as a nightmare unfolded in front of his eyes. Australia crawled to 41-4 at the halfway stage of their innings and they had to wait until the 17th over for the first six of their innings.
Ashton Agar (20) hit Woakes for back-to-back sixes and Pat Cummins meted out the same treatment to Tymal Mills to take Australia past the 100-mark.
Finch made 44 before falling to Chris Jordan (3-17) and Australia were eventually all out in exactly 20 overs.
England looked in a hurry to wrap up victory with Buttler leading the onslaught when they returned to begin their chase.
Buttler hit Mitchell Starc for back-to-back sixes as England, at 66 for no loss, helped themselves to the tournament’s most productive powerplay session.
Adam Zampa removed Jason Roy and Dawid Malan fell cheaply but Buttler continued the mayhem and raced to a 25-ball fifty, reaching the milestone with the fourth of his five sixes.
D. Warner c Buttler b Woakes1
A. Finch c Bairstow b Jordan44
S. Smith c Woakes b Jordan1
G. Maxwell lbw b Woakes6
M. Stoinis lbw b Rashid0
M. Wade c Roy b Livingstone18
A. Agar c Livingstone b Mills20
P. Cummins b Jordan12
M. Starc c Buttler b Mills13
A. Zampa run out1
J. Hazlewood not out0
EXTRAS (LB-6, W-3)9
TOTAL (all out, 20 overs)125
FALL OF WKTS: 1-7 (Warner), 2-8 (Smith), 3-15 (Maxwell), 4-21 (Stoinis), 5-51 (Wade), 6-98 (Agar), 7-110 (Finch), 8-110 (Cummins), 9-119 (Zampa).
BOWLING: Rashid 4-0-19-1, Woakes 4-0-23-2 (2w), Jordan 4-0-17-3, Livingstone 4-0-15-1, Mills 4-0-45-2 (1w).
J. Roy lbw b Zampa22
J. Buttler not out71
D. Malan c Wade b Agar8
J. Bairstow not out16
EXTRAS (B-5, NB-1, W-3)9
TOTAL (for two wkts, 11.4 overs)126
DID NOT BAT: E. Morgan, L. Livingstone, Moeen Ali, C. Woakes, C. Jordan, Adil Rashid, T. Mills.
FALL OF WKTS: 1-66 (Roy), 2-97 (Malan).
BOWLING: Starc 3-0-37-0 (1w), Hazlewood 2-0-18-0, Cummins 1-0-14-0 (1w, 1nb), Agar 2.4-0-15-1 (1w), Zampa 3-0-37-1.
RESULT: England won by eight wickets.
UMPIRES: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and N.N. Menon (India).
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Jos Buttler (England).