Australia Defeat England in World Cup Opener
Australia have defeated the old enemy by 111 runs at the MCG on Saturday in the second Pool A match of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Chasing 9/342 England struggled most of the way to their total of 231. A dominant display with the bat proved too much for the English, who could not hold their chances to maintain pressure on the Aussies. A century to Aaron Finch and some late lusty blows from Glenn Maxwell’s bat helped push the hosts past 300.
England chose to field at the MCG on what was a decent batting wicket. England had their chances to make the most of some good early swing and bounce, but dropped two good opportunities in the first 5 overs, including Finch on 0.
A solid 57 run opening partnership from 45 balls was undone by a fizzing Stuart Broad seamer that skittled David Warner’s stumps on 22(18). Broad wasn’t done, throwing down a first-ball jaffa to the unfortunate Shane Watson, who edged behind to Jos Butler.
Steve Smith came to the crease with huge expectations on his shoulders after an epic summer. The confident youngster looked uncharacteristically nervous as he tiptoed around the crease. Smith was bowled edging onto his stumps for 5(14) by Woakes, completing a big turnaround for the English. Australia going from 0-57 to 3-70 in a few overs.
George Bailey combined nicely with the calm Aaron Finch to post a whopping 146 run partnership for the 4th wicket. Finch looked to be on cruise control as he reached his 6th ODI century from just 102 balls. In a man of the match performance, Finch crushed 3 sixes and 12 boundaries at a strike rate of 105.
“It was very nice to get a hundred in front of my family and friends… at the home ground, the home of cricket, it was pretty special,” Finch commented during the post match press conference.
England captain Eoin Morgan stepped up in the field to halt the rampant duo, throwing down the stumps to run out Finch on 135(128). Finn chimed in, bowling Bailey for 55(69) in a whirlwind 10-balls that threw the game back into contention at 5/228.
The Australian middle and lower order rose to the challenge yet again to post an impressive 9/342 from their 50 overs. Quick-fire runs from Marsh (23 from 20), Haddin (31 from 14) and the morale-crushing Glenn Maxwell (66 from 40, including 11 boundaries) had the home fans roaring with pride.
England missed a number of close run out chances, adding to the disappointment of the earlier dropped catches and the Australians took advantage.
Steven Finn nabbed 5 wickets including a comical hat-trick with a wicket from the final ball of the innings. Mitchell Johnson tried to smash the ball out of the park, handing the honour to Finn on a platter.
Mitchell Marsh ripped through the English top order with 5 wickets. Using the bounce in the wicket, Marsh (5/33) bowled with surprising pace and was backed up by some excellent fielding.
“Mitchell Marsh was outstanding, he broke the game open for us,” captain George Bailey commented after the match.
Brad Haddin was incredible at times behind the stumps, diving low to dismiss England captain Morgan for duck, continuing a poor run of form for the skipper. Steve Smith was at his aerobatic best at short cover, leaping high and to his left to send Joe Root packing.
An 84-run seventh wicket partnership between Taylor and Woakes including an impressive 98* from Taylor were the only real positives to take from the match for England, who trundled their way beyond 200.
“Probably 310 was par, but we needed all three guns firing and the top order to come off for us to chase that,” conceded captain Morgan after the match.
Taylor was controversially prevented from reaching his century when Andersen was given run out after an LBW appeal. The appeal was initially given as out, but after a referral the ball was adjudged to be heading down the leg side. Glenn Maxwell had thrown down the stumps during the appeal, and Anderson was given out.
The ICC have confirmed that it was an umpiring error.
“The PCT (Playing Control Team) spoke to the England team management and acknowledges that the game ended incorrectly and an error was made,” read the brief ICC statement acknowledging that Anderson was incorrectly given out.
Australia go to the top of Pool A with New Zealand who also won their opening match against Sri Lanka convincingly. The Aussies play Bangladesh in their second pool match on Saturday at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Image: Getty Images