It took withdrawals from Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan and multiple drop catches but Australia finally managed to beat England by scraping their way through in the 3rd T20I on Tuesday. Among those who impressed were Hazlewood and Marsh, but the Aussies have a lot of work to do, heading into the ODIs.
Josh Hazlewood is undervalued in white-ball cricket by Australia
With every passing limited-overs match, Josh Hazlewood is making a case for himself to be a first-choice in white-ball cricket. Hazlewood was the pick of the seamers for Australia in three of the four ODIs he featured in at the start of this year - 1/55 versus India in Bangalore and 2/37 versus South Africa and New Zealand - and today, once again, he proved that he can be a really, really effective weapon with the white-ball. In his spell of 1/23, Hazlewood bowled 13 dots and did a wondrous job by just sticking to his strengths, which is bowling like he does in Test cricket. He adds a sense of control, consistency and assurance that, as was evident from Starc’s 1/20 today, gives a bit of leeway to the other attacking options. That his appearance today was his first in T20I cricket in over four-and-a-half-years shows how undervalued he is in the shorter formats.
There is more to Joe Denly the white-ball batsman than just memes
Just the name ‘Joe Denly’ arouses shi*tposters and meme creators, so given today was a coloured clothing game, there were many a people who were confident that they were going to have a field day watching Denly bat. To their dismay, though, Denly didn’t provide them with jokes; he instead served them the humble pie. Sure there was “plenty” of luck involved with his knock today, but he went about his business smart. The flurry of outside-edges off Richardson which went to the boundary were a result of the veteran cleverly opening the face of his bat - by doing so, he gave himself the best chance for the ball to split the gap between the keeper and short third man. This was not a one-off, btw. Among his more recent white-ball knocks have been an 87 and 66 versus South Africa and a match-winning 20* (12) versus Pakistan prior to the 2019 World Cup. There’s a reason - beyond Ed Smith - why he’s still in the white-ball set-up, you know.
Tom Banton will not open (play) for KKR
Of course, people lost their minds after Tom Banton’s 71 against Pakistan a few weeks ago. A generational talent, the next Kevin Pietersen and what not. But the truth is, he still has a long way to go as an international batsman. For starters, barring the odd instances where his sweeps and reverse-sweeps come off, Banton is extremely susceptible against spin, and as we’ve come to learn through the course of this summer, he is not ‘perfect’ versus pace either. He is far from a finished article. Thus it is vitally important to lower the expectations and look at the youngster as someone who is still learning the trade. It is also important for England to not play around with his batting position too much; perhaps he’d have fared much better today had he just opened throughout the summer. For now, at least KKR fans can rest assured knowing Banton won’t be opening - or playing - for them this season. Not too many games, at least.
Adil Rashid is England’s most important player in T20Is
Forget Buttler, forget Bairstow, forget Morgan, forget Archer, Adil Rashid is England’s most important player in T20 cricket. At least going by current form. Robert Key’s “Rashid is the best spinner in the world” comments seemed like an absurd statement a month ago, but now, there might just be an element of truth to it. Phew, he’s been flawless all series with his googlies and flippers and the big, booming leg-breakers. Not one Australian managed to pick him all series, in the 12 overs he bowled - they didn’t even struggle this much against a peak Kuldeep and Chahal last year. It is a known fact that England have struggled to take wickets upfront, but Rashid has almost neutralized it by taking an abundance of wickets in the middle. This series alone, he’s clinched 6 in 3 games, all in the middle. England’s MVP at the moment.
Australia are screwed heading into the ODIs
Well, the Aussies might have ‘barely’ gotten over the line today, but let me tell you, they are screwed, big time, heading into the ODIs. One, they don’t know what their best combination is; two, they don’t know who their third seamer is and three, they have absolutely no idea how their middle-order should look like and who fits into it. And to add to all this, barring Finch, not a single player is in respectable form. This heading into a format in which they were whitewashed by a second-string South African team six months ago, versus a side against whom they have lost 10 of their last 11 ODIs. If you’re an Australian fan, please do expect the worst come the ODIs.