8 Jun, 2024 09:00 PM5 mins to read

Australia are in the box seat to top their group at the Twenty20 World Cup after a 36-run victory over champions England, who may need to rely on net-run rate to make the knockout stages.

World T20 - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

On a Bridgetown deck where runs flowed easily, legspinner Adam Zampa (2-28) was a game-changer for Australia, dispatching both English openers Jos Buttler and Phil Salt after they made a fast start in pursuit of 202 in Barbados.

Earlier, openers David Warner (39 from 16 deliveries) and Travis Head (34 from 18) had laid the groundwork for Australia’s 201/7 - the highest total at the North American tournament to date - after Mitch Marsh’s side lost the toss.

England were left to rue letting Warner and Head off the leash early, finishing their 20 overs at 165/6.

The win keeps Australia undefeated through two matches at the World Cup and means they will top group B if they beat minnow nations Scotland and Namibia in their final two games before the Super 8 stage.

England, meanwhile, are still searching for their first win of the tournament after their first hit-out against Scotland was washed out and they can’t afford anything less than victory against Oman next Friday.

Adam Zampa celebrates a wicket against England. Photo / Getty Images

Australia left England requiring the third-largest successful run chase in T20 World Cup history but they appeared up for the task as Buttler (42 from 28 deliveries) and Salt (37 from 23) matched the heroics of Australia’s own opening partnership.

Australia’s seamers struggled on a pitch that made life hard for the quicks all day, especially with the new ball.

But Zampa had an immediate impact once injected into the attack after the English openers had exposed the short boundary and punished Mitch Starc (0/37) and Josh Hazlewood (1/28) across their 73-run stand.

World T20 - Figure 2
Photo New Zealand Herald

On his first delivery of the day, Zampa sent a length ball into Salt’s off-stump, saving Head’s blushes after the opener had put his foot on the boundary rope catching the opener an over earlier.

Zampa continued to hit excellent lengths and was rewarded with the pivotal wicket of English captain and the game’s top-scorer Buttler, who picked out Pat Cummins (2-23) at backward point on the quick’s return to the T20 side.

Out of sorts with the bat for most of the year, part-time offspinner Glenn Maxwell (0/22) deputised for Zampa after the Australians chose not to take Ashton Agar into the spin-friendly Kensington Oval.

Moeen Ali (25) threatened to hoist England back into the game with three sixes from the same Maxwell over, but ‘The Big Show’ exacted his revenge when he caught slumping Jonny Bairstow (7) at deep mid-wicket from Josh Hazlewood’s bowling.

Maxwell taunted the pro-England crowd after his catch, aware that at 124/4 in the 15th over, the game was slipping out of England’s reach.

Following a scintillating IPL, Cummins (2/23) had the most success of the quicks to ensure the English were never able to get going again once he dispatched Ali.

Earlier, Buttler’s call to open the bowling with two off-spinners backfired. Warner and Head helped themselves to 22 runs from part-time tweaker Will Jacks in the second over to set the tone for their 70-run partnership.

Anything too quick was easily dispatched on the Barbadian wicket, with retiring Warner feasting on Mark Wood (0-32) in likely his last appearance against England.

World T20 - Figure 3
Photo New Zealand Herald

Once England cottoned on that pace would not win the day, they had the openers within five balls of each other, Moeen Ali (1/18) first bowling Warner as he misplayed a cut shot.

When injury-plagued quick Jofra Archer (1/28) took pace off too and completely dislodged Head’s middle stump, England had steadied the ship at 74/2.

But Marsh (35) and Maxwell (28) steadied the ship and kept Australia on track, albeit without going on to big scores themselves.

A dream total was confirmed through a 30-run cameo from Marcus Stoinis at the death.

Earlier, South Africa made it two wins from two with a nervy four-wicket victory over the Netherlands in another low-scoring encounter at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

Ottniel Baartman produced impressive figures of 4/11 to help restrict Netherlands to 103/9, but it looked a tricky total when South Africa were reduced to 12/4.

But a 65-run partnership between Tristan Stubbs and David Miller swung the pendulum back in South Africa’s favour before Miller got his team over the line with a classy unbeaten 59.

David Miller played a vital hand for South Africa. Photo /AP

South Africa had dismissed Sri Lanka for 77 on the controversial drop-in pitch in New York and set about in a similar vein when Netherlands collapsed to 32/4.

Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje did the bulk of the early damage with two scalps each, but Baartman soon took centre stage. After his first three overs went for only 10 runs, the international newcomer finished off with a three-wicket over, which included Sybrand Engelbrecht for a patient 40.

Engelbrecht’s 45-ball knock helped Netherlands post what looked a winnable score when Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram were dismissed for ducks.

At 12/4, South Africa needed a partnership to avoid a third consecutive World Cup defeat to Netherlands and it was delivered by Stubbs and Miller.

Stubbs’ dismissal by Bas de Leede sparked a tense finale, but three sixes in quick succession from Miller edged South Africa home with seven balls to spare.

South Africa play Bangladesh on Monday while the Dutch face Bangladesh on Thursday.

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