SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Jos Buttler clouted a six down the ground to secure a six-wicket win for England on Sunday and an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the Twenty20 cricket series against Australia.
Opener Buttler carried his bat for an unbeaten 77 off 54 balls, a career best in the T20 International format, with eight fours and two sixes, including the winning runs off Adam Zampa.
England finished on 158-4 in 18.5 overs at an empty Rose Bowl, overhauling Australia’s 157-7 in the second of three matches in the series.
Top-ranked Australia chose to bat first and lost opener David Warner for a duck to Jofra Archer before recovering from 3-2 in the second over. Captain Aaron Finch hit 40 runs off 33 balls, with four boundaries and two sixes, but the visitors’ total always appeared within the reach of second-ranked England.
Dawid Malan scored 42 runs off 32 balls for England which still needed 18 runs off the last two overs. Ashton Agar took 2-27.
England rallied to beat Australia by two runs in a thrilling first T20 last Friday that went down to the final ball. Chasing 163 to win, Australia collapsed from 124-1 after 14 overs in what was its first international cricket match since March.
“I have really missed playing T20 cricket and I was looking forward to this series because it has been a long time since I played white-ball cricket,” said Buttler, who played a role in England’s test series against West Indies and Pakistan in July and August but not in the limited-overs games. “I love the format and I am feeling in good touch.
“The competition for places in the side has really been driving me as well. The guys have been coming in and playing well and when you miss out, you feel that pressure so to come back in you feel like you have to play well.”
The third T20 is at Southampton on Tuesday, with a three-game ODI series to follow. Australia is playing international cricket for the first time in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Buttler’s innings more than made up for his contribution to England earlier wasting a lbw review after Adil Rashid’s delivery very clearly hit Finch’s bat — and plum in the middle — with Australia at 40-3. Buttler smiled and looked sheepish after England’s review quickly failed.
Earlier, Archer only needed three balls to make the first breakthrough for England in dismissing Warner. The Australia opener was caught behind after getting the faintest of touches on a quick, cutting delivery. Warner immediately asked for a TV review but the dismissal was confirmed when technology indicated sound on ultra edge when the delivery went past his glove.
Australia changed its batting lineup from the first T20 with Alex Carey going in at No. 3 instead of Steve Smith. The change in order failed to work, with Mark Wood getting Carey (2) caught behind in the second over.
Smith joined Finch and the experienced duo had a big job on their hands.
Smith looked to get Australia back on track with a pull for six off Tom Curran but his attempt at a quick single backfired in the final ball of the fifth over. After dropping a shot into the leg side Smith set off, but England captain Eoin Morgan picked up superbly from short mid-wicket and hit with one stump to aim at.
That dismissed Smith for 10 and Australia was 39-3 at the end of the powerplay overs.
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