|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Dubai|
|Australia 125 (20 overs): Finch 44 (49); Jordan 3-17, Woakes 2-23|
|England 126-2 (11.4 overs): Buttler 71* (32)|
|England won by eight wickets|
England outclassed Australia in a memorable eight-wicket victory to close in on a place in the Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals.
Jos Buttler smashed a brutal 71 not out from just 32 balls as England raced to a target of 126 with 8.2 overs to spare.
Eoin Morgan’s side dominated from the outset, reducing Australia – unbeaten in their two previous games – to 21-4 in Dubai.
Chris Woakes removed David Warner and Glenn Maxwell and produced an outstanding one-handed catch to dismiss Steve Smith for one.
Lower-order hitting and captain Aaron Finch’s gritty 49-ball 44 took Australia before they were bowled out for 125 off the final ball. It was never likely to be enough.
Buttler launched five huge sixes as the chase turned into a procession, the England-supporting contingent in the crowd singing and dancing in their seats.
It was Australia’s heaviest T20 defeat in terms of balls remaining and maintained England’s perfect start to the tournament.
They have three emphatic wins from three games and sit top of Group 1, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals.
England play Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Monday before finishing the group with a match against South Africa at the same venue next Saturday.
England humiliate oldest rivals
Despite being ranked number one in the T20 rankings, even England would not have expected to have made such a perfect start to the World Cup.
By the end, amid Buttler’s extraordinary hitting, it looked as though the teams were playing sports from a different age.
The opener peppered the top tier of the stands en route to a 25-ball fifty which included two sixes in two balls off pace bowler Starc.
After the loss of Jason Roy for 22 and Dawid Malan for eight, Jonny Bairstow joined Buttler for the closing moments. When he launched two sixes of his own, captain Morgan was shaking his head in disbelief.
England’s performance felt remarkably similar to their famous eight-wicket thrashing of Australia at Edgbaston in the semi-finals of the 2019 50-over World Cup.
Continue this form and England could well back up that success and become the first men’s side to hold both World Cups at the same time.
‘A masterclass of T20 batting’
Former captain Michael Vaughan described England as “the best” and the “most destructive” team in the tournament.
Asked for his reaction to the victory, a typically understated Morgan said. “Pretty good.”
England all-rounder Liam Livingstone was slightly more effusive. “We saw a masterclass of T20 batting from Jos,” he said. “As clinical as it can be.”
Former Australia batter Stuart Law said: “It has been a horrible evening for Australia.
“England have shown their class in this format. They are full of confidence and know their roles – and when you do that the game becomes very easy.”
Bowlers set England on their way
As impressive as the chase was, England effectively won the match with early wickets.
The seamers found movement under the Dubai lights and for the third match in a row England took two wickets in the opening three overs.
Woakes removed Warner with his second ball – caught behind off a thin edge for one – and trapped Maxwell lbw for six in his second over.
Between those wickets Woakes, leaping backwards at mid-on, held Smith off Chris Jordan, while Bairstow later took a good tumbling catch at long-off to cap another near faultless England fielding display.
Jordan had Finch caught at long-off and bowled Pat Cummins for 12 with a perfect yorker to give him figures of 3-17, his best in a T20 for England since 2019.
Liam Livingstone was effective too, conceding only 15 runs in four overs that also included the wicket of Matthew Wade.
It was the complete England performance.
‘Buttler played a hell of an innings’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan: “Jason was man of the match last time and showed that intent again here and then Jos followed suit and kicked on from there.
“They set up the chase and made it quite comfortable in the end.”
Australia captain Aaron Finch: “England bowled well and put us on the back foot early, which is why they have been the best in the world for a while.
“We had to bowl them out, no issues there, but Jos Buttler played a hell of an innings. It was just one of those nights.”