Welcome to another edition of Ask me anything, this time in a classical T20 contest between rivals Australia and England. Who won? Well too early for me to reveal that, read it for yourself through the most riveting of questions asking surrounding the first of the three T20I encounters.
Brief scores: England 162/7 (Malan 66 and Richardson 2/13) beat Australia 160/6 (Warner 58 and Rashid 2-29) by 2 runs
So Australia won the toss and batted first, right?
Exactly not, this Australian team under Aaron Finch had watched the third T20I between England and Pakistan and went chasing first. Finch went with Stoinis in the middle-order alongside Maxwell in a rather Melbourne Stars-fashion.
Was it the right move?
After the second over, when Finch gave the ball to Ashton Agar, the move was seemingly looking like it was going to backfire. In the second over rather, it actually did as Agar went for 16 runs off Jos Buttler’s willow. From thereon, Buttler was just smashing it left-right and centre. It was a royal service indeed from the Englishman early on.
Wait, how about Starc?
Starc looked nowhere close to being Starc or deadly, or both. He was putting on a threatening face but never did really threaten in the encounter. Never for a moment, it really looked like Starc was trying too much for the ball to swing back into Buttler but it never happened for him sadly. On the other hand, however, there was Cummins from the other end who sent back Bairstow.
How about Finch’s captaincy?
I would say a bit scratchy upfront but certainly, he picked up the pace of the encounter immediately post that. His bowling switches and changes were brilliant and fielding changes, spot on. More than Cummins deserving the wicket to send back Bairstow, it was the Australian skipper’s decisive change that fetched them the wicket at ‘fly’ slip. Post that, very wisely the Victorian went straight to his all-rounder Maxwell who picked up two timely wickets.
Eoin Morgan must have saved England for sure right?
Oh well, you must be really badly hungover from the last T20I against Pakistan or you must be a KKR fan. Surely, he had a stinker tonight and moreso, got out against Glenn Maxwell after scoring that boundary in the initial phase. At 91/3, Morgan should have seriously double-checked his careless shot because England were playing with a slightly longer tail than usual. He just gave Maxwell more confidence, who accounted for another southpaw, Moeen Ali.
Why is Moeen Ali still playing?
Suddenly, both of us share a similar view and that is Moeen Ali lacks the confidence to play international cricket at the moment. He did score a 61 against Pakistan but I guess he has looked very ordinary since the start of the limited-overs season. Today too, he did not disappoint all the people who criticise him with a performance below-average.
What happened towards the end?
Ooof, things started getting a bit more spicy and dicey in the 18th over surely when Adam Zampa was handed the ball, a really debatable decision from him. In just that one over, the new RCB recruit leaked 22 runs, conceding two sixes and bowling an atrocious ball to give away five extra runs much before Christmas to England. That one over propelled England to a total of 162 for the loss of seven wickets.
Did Finch-Warner start off with fireworks?
Yes, it was all fireworks as Katy Perry would appreciate, the opener made 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh" As they shot the ball in the sky. Jofra Archer did breathe fire but more so, Finch smoked the fire and extinguished into the crowd with his shots in sublime fashion, oh how I missed the two Aussie openers.
How about the poor lad Mark Wood?
Oh man, I have to be terribly honest about this one. I have felt so bad for Mark Wood this season, after being a sure-shot starter in the first Test of the English summer, he has gone buried. And after all of that, he returns back against Australia to suffer the wrath. The Australian openers welcomed pace and really launched an assault in the powerplay that was so soothing to see as an Australian fan.
When was Adil Rashid introduced then?
Not bad, you are picking the slowness of this fixture and you must have watched the English summer I guess. He was badly needed on his track, not for his slow bowling but for his variations but did it help? Sadly not, he went away as Finch shipped him for 14 straight runs in three deliveries, no sparing nothing whatsoever!
Who finally broke the partnership?
Imagine this, the most criticised person this summer (not you, Joe Denly) Jofra Archer was brought on to dismiss the dangerous Aussie pair. He did strike, picking up the Australian skipper after he mistimed a front-foot tennis half-volley straight to Chris Jordan, who did an excellent job to get his both hands on the ball.
So all these TikToks did pay off?
Absolutely, David Warner looked fresh, looked as comfortable as ever in just his first appearance since March. Oh man, during the lockdown, he has done that bit to entertain ourselves, on TikTok and after returning on the field, did certainly put on a spectacle, which lasted more than 15 TikTok videos. Incidentally, it was his 19th half-century in the shortest format, and guess who tops? Rohit Sharma!
And Glenn Maxwell finished it off in style?
Wrong, that is where Australia messed it up, remember the chase against South Africa earlier this year? Sort of that, where they completely messed up in the middle overs, not knowing how to approach the chase after being handed one of the easiest plates in recent history. Maxwell went and Carey went and then it was a bottle-job from the visitors. Agar too, as I type this out!
Marcus Stonis or MS Dhoni?
Certainly just having the initials MS wouldn't make Stoinis Dhoni or Dhoni Stoinis or both of them Virat Kohli. As it stood out, Marcus Stoinis had the opportunity to seal the position for himself but like always, it too went down the freaking drain.