Australia 294 for 9 (Maxwell 77, Marsh 73, Wood 3-54) beat England 275 for 9 (Billings 118, Bairstow 84, Hazlewood 3-26) by 19 runs
Australia began their World Cup Super League campaign with a hard-fought victory over the world champions at Emirates Old Trafford. A century stand between Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh helped salvage a stuttering effort with the bat, and the bowlers then closed the door on England despite a characterful maiden international hundred from Sam Billings.
Australia’s efforts with the ball were exemplified by Josh Hazlewood, whose spotless 3 for 26 helped keep England just beyond social distance. Hazlewood’s first wicket came via an instinctive one-handed catch in his follow through, and he later contributed to the removal of Jonny Bairstow, for 84, with a diving take at long-on. Such excellence in the field, maintained until the final ball when Billings was held by David Warner running in from long-on, only served to steepen England’s climb.
In the last World Cup cycle, England managed 10 successful chases of 290-plus (three of them against Australia) – but despite fielding 10 of the men that helped lift the trophy last summer they struggled to find the confident stride required to hunt down a target never before achieved on this ground. With the relentless Hazlewood accounting for Jason Roy and Joe Root, England limped to 22 for 2 in the Powerplay, their worst start in home ODIs since 2006.
It would have been 22 for 3 but for the DRS, with Bairstow overturning an lbw decision granted to Hazlewood with the final ball of the 10th over. Hazlewood had figures of 6-3-5-2 before conceding 14 runs from his seventh – including the only two boundaries of his evening’s work – but just as England looked to wrestle back some momentum, Eoin Morgan picked out midwicket from Adam Zampa’s fifth legitimate delivery.
The dangerous Jos Buttler, Man of the Series in the T20Is and playing his first ODI since the World Cup final, then holed out to long-off at the start of Zampa’s second over – Marnus Labuschagne diving forward to take another fine catch – and at 57 for 4 in the 17th, England looked to be heading for a full-scale implosion.
Bairstow and Billings stopped the rot with a partnership of 113 off 115 balls. Bairstow’s 78-ball fifty was his slowest in ODIs, but he appeared to have played through his fitful start until the return of Zampa brought about the crucial breakthrough for Australia. England still needed 125 from 14.4 overs and despite some excellent hustle from Billings, who brought up his century from 101 balls with a pull off Pat Cummins in the 49th over, the target never quite came within reach.
The expectation was that late-season Old Trafford would present the sort of batting challenge that has occasionally flummoxed England, and they certainly struggled to work out the best approach for the pitch. Billings’ success, having been troubled initially by the spin of Zampa, was something to take from defeat, after Morgan had called for greater adaptability on less-than-pristine surfaces.
Australia’s match-winning total was arrived at in pleasing fashion, as far as the touring management were concerned, following a successful rebuilding effort from two of their unfulfilled talents the middle order. Marsh anchored the innings from No. 5 with his highest score in almost four years, while Maxwell threatened at some trademark pyrotechnics before falling for 77 from 59, as they ensured a competitive total despite England’s seamers – led by the returning Jofra Archer and Mark Wood – finishing strongly.
Missing Steven Smith, who suffered a blow to the head in training the day before, and asked to make the running against the No. 1-ranked side, Australia recovered well from a shaky first half. The 126-run sixth-wicket partnership was a record for Australia in ODIs against England and allowed them some respite from the middle-order woes that have dogged them in this format.
Coming in with Australia’s score a peaky-looking 123 for 5, Maxwell was soon ticking along at above a run a ball, before unleashing his full repertoire. With Marsh intent on knuckling down, having been restored to the side in South Africa earlier this year, it was Maxwell who looked most capable of undoing England’s good start with the ball.
He might have been taken on 10 going after an Adil Rashid long hop only for sub fielder Tom Banton to palm it over the rope at long-on, and was fortunate to escape when top-edging a sweep between Buttler and Root at slip on 41. But Maxwell was beginning to find his range as the innings entered its final phase, putting Rashid into the top tier and then creaming Archer for back-to-back sixes before mistiming a slower ball on to his stumps.
Talk about Australia’s formula for ODIs has been something of a constant in recent times – despite their run to the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup – and they came into this series with the captain, Aaron Finch, calling for “consistency” in their bid to settle on a preferred XI for the road to 2023. There was soon an opportunity for the some of the less-established members of the batting line-up to state their case, with David Warner beaten for pace in Archer’s second over and opening partner Finch caught behind off Wood’s first ball.
Marcus Stoinis, deputising for Smith at No. 3, enjoyed limited success before becoming a second victim for Wood – nicking a 92mph delivery to the diving Buttler – and England found more middle-overs success during Rashid’s spell. Labuschagne, having looked his usual busy self, missed a slider to be pinned lbw despite a review and the under-pressure Alex Carey top-edged a sweep – Rashid moving past James Anderson to become England’s leading ODI wicket-taker against Australia.
Having recovered to 218 for 5 after 40, with Maxwell primed to launch, Australia could only managed 77 runs from the final 10 – which included Starc tonking the last ball for six. But that proved plenty for a 1-0 lead in the series and 10 World Cup qualification points on the board.
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