In one of the most startling chokes of recent times, Australia had a deja-vu in the second ODI after they replicated their performance from the first T20I as England drew level in the ODI series from the jaws of defeat. Chris Woakes turned England's protagonist with brilliant figures of 3/32.
Adam Zampa's leg-spin clinic
If breaking the backbone of English batting (Harmonium) is an art, then Adam Zampa is the master (Abba) of it, I mean if you know what I mean. Given how well Adam Zampa has done in the ODI series, he will surely be at the receiving end of a lot of applause in the dressing room. Last time, when Australia played a bilateral ODI series in England, they were beaten black and blue (0-5) with no bowler taking more than six wickets in the five-match ODI series, while Zampa now has seven wickets in just two games.
The Shellharbour-born cricketer was able to con the big English fishes and ended with figures of 3/36 today. In the first ODI, it had taken him two deliveries to get on the board while today, it was just on his third delivery when he outfoxed Joe Root with a flighted ball that dipped on the batter. After that, he sent back the dangerous looking Eoin Morgan on 42, with some loop on the ball that castled his forward defence and kissed his knee roll, which was huge given his red-hot form, and not to forget it took a flat leg-break to trump the first ODI centurion, Sam Billings, who chopped the ball on to his stumps to a delivery that had turn and zip.
Even in the ODI series opener, Zampa had taken out Morgan, Buttler and Bairstow. After struggling in the first two T20Is (0/47 and 1/42), it's been a strong comeback from the wristie to show that he is a top-notch white-ball bowler. And in some helpful conditions, the way he put up a leg-spin masterclass, there cannot be a greater tribute to the greatest leg-spinner of all-time, Shane Warne on his birthday, from his own countryman.
Joe Root's travails
Quintessentially the good boy of cricket, Joe Root is hard to dislike, I mean with his classical array of strokes, the grace with which he bats, and the gentleman he is. But, he has fallen out with a lot of cricket fans off late, not because they have any malice for him but the genius he is, he hasn't done justice to his own high standards or the one that the other members of fab four have been able to withstand. From not being able to convert the fifties into hundreds, which was his primary issue, sometime back, now he has even lost the consistency that a player of his calibre has to exhibit.
In a do-or-die second game for England, who haven't lost even a single bilateral ODI series at home since 2015, Root put up a horrific show, struggling his way to 39 off 73 deliveries at a strike-rate of 53.42. Undoubtedly, the pitch was double-paced with assistance for Zampa but then when Morgan had outlined ahead of the series that the batsmen need to adapt themselves better, he would have expected his senior man, country's Test skipper, Joe Root to put his hand up and show everyone else, how it is done. But Root has managed are scores of 1 and 39.
This summer the 29-year-old has managed just a single fifty in 10 innings. In his last Test series against Pakistan, the right-hander accumulated merely 94 runs at 31.33. While in his last ODI series against South Africa, the Yorkshire batsman averaged 33 which when coupled with his ongoing exploits, paint a bleak picture. He wasn't even considered for the Australia T20Is and with displays like today, it will be a major talking point if he continues underperforming especially at a time when a certain Babar Azam is threatening to take his place in the fab four.
Australians choked again, eh?
Growing up in the noughties, Australia was central to collapses albeit as the team causing it. No matter what, they knew how to take back the game from the jaws of defeat, they had an indomitable temperament and an aura, which was too good to overpower. But, times have changed and Australia have now started choking. I mean take the example of the first T20I on this tour, the Men in Yellow required 39 off 36 balls with nine wickets in hand and yet they managed to lose the game by 2 runs.
In the second ODI versus England, there was no way, Australia were losing the game. They were on brink of becoming the first team to win bilateral ODI series in England since they did it last time in 2015. They had England by the scruff of their neck. With 88 runs to make and seven wickets in hand and a set Finch in the middle, with half-centurions from the first ODI, Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell in the lower-middle-order, how can you bottle up the game? But for Australia, it went downhill as soon as they lost Marnus Labuschagne, who had added 107 runs alongside captain Finch.
After Marnus was gone, Jofra Archer accounted for Mitchell Marsh and after that came two decisive blows from the hands of Chris Woakes, who disturbed the wood-work of good mates, Finch and Maxwell, both playing down the wrong line. From 144 for 3, soon Australia were gasping for breath at 147-6. Unlike the visitors, who let Tom Curran and Adil Rashid flourish with a partnership of 76 runs for the ninth wicket, there were no loose ends from the hosts, as Sam Curran struck twice in as many deliveries to send back Cummins and Starc, with Australia still needing 66 runs and having two wickets in hand. It ended with England winning the game and Australia choking in one of the most startling ways.