Buttler guides England to series win

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Second Twenty20, Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Australia 157-7 (20 overs): Finch 40 (33), Stoinis 35 (26); Jordan 2-40
England 158-4 (18.5 overs): Buttler* 77 (54), Malan 42 (32)
England win by six wickets

Jos Buttler guided England to a six-wicket victory over Australia in the second Twenty20 international to clinch the three-match series.

Buttler batted throughout for his 77 from 54 balls as the hosts reached their target of 158 with seven balls left.

After the loss of Jonny Bairstow, who hit his own wicket in the third over, Buttler batted patiently in a stand of 87 with Dawid Malan.

Malan fell for 42, and Tom Banton and Eoin Morgan followed in a collapse of 3-29, but the assured Buttler held firm.

With 18 needed from the final two overs, Moeen Ali hit 10 from two balls before Buttler sealed the victory with a huge six.

A brilliant start with the ball by England had earlier seen Australia fall to 3-2 and 30-3, before the tourists scrapped to their total.

After snatching victory in Friday’s series opener, England now lead 2-0 with only the final match on Tuesday to come.

Brilliant Buttler ensures no repeat

In the first game of the series Australia were cruising to victory before a late collapse saw England win.

Here, when Malan holed out on the slog sweep at the end of an impressive knock, Banton top-edged to deep square leg and Morgan hit to extra cover, a similar twist was possible.

However, Buttler provided what Australia lacked – a calm head to see the game home.

He was not his attacking usual self for much of the innings. Although the right-hander found boundaries effectively with trademark reverse sweeps, England only took 44 from the first six overs of their chase.

Instead, he batted maturely with Malan and found the boundary when needed. One back-foot drive through the covers after the loss of Banton relieved pressure.

Buttler’s presence as a set batsman allowed Moeen to attack the penultimate over and he hit Adam Zampa for six over extra cover before adding a four in the same region from the next ball.

Australia captain Aaron Finch’s gamble to bowl his leg-spinner Zampa proved decisive. Buttler emphatically launched him down the ground and into the stands to end the game.

Bowlers deliver for England

The win sees England claim a fifth T20 series win from their past six – the other was the drawn series against Pakistan last month.

In that time they have regularly impressed with the bat but their bowling has sometimes been criticised. They have often struggled for wickets in the first six overs of a match.

On this occasion, Jofra Archer removed David Warner with the third ball – Warner gloved a fast, rising delivery to the wicketkeeper – and Mark Wood found the edge of Alex Carey in the next over.

England’s average speed in those first two overs was 90.6mph – the fastest opening two overs by England in a T20 – as Archer and Wood produced a fine opening spell.

Captain Morgan ran out Steve Smith for 10 with a direct hit from extra cover, meaning Australia were 39-3 after six overs. It was the fewest runs England had conceded in the powerplay in their past 13 T20s.

Finch and Marcus Stoinis put on 49 but England continued to take wickets at crucial moments. Finch played on to Jordan on 40, Stoinis departed for 35 when he edged Adil Rashid to slip and Glenn Maxwell became Jordan’s second victim in the penultimate over after starting to find his range.

The only negative from the bowling effort was that Archer’s final over cost 18. He bowled three wides and was hit to six by Pat Cummins as Australia made it to a score that had looked beyond them.

Still, Buttler ensured it was not enough.

‘Buttler one of the best in the world’ – reaction

England captain Eoin Morgan: “When Jos Buttler is in the form he is, he really is one of the best players in the world. I thought Australia bowled really well today and fielded really well but there are some batsmen in the world that can take the game away from you and always look like chasing down the total, and Jos is one of those players.

“Jofra set the tone. It’s as fast and as well as I’ve seen him bowl all summer.”

Australia captain Aaron Finch: “I thought we got to a score we could defend. We needed a few things to go right. Jos is a world-class player and if you don’t get the guy who is opening out, you won’t win the game.

“No matter what format or wherever the world, he’s a great player. “

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “This England side are ruthless, they just know how to win games of cricket.”

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