If it was England’s bowling that won them the game in the opening ODI in London, it was their batting that stood out on Saturday (June 16), as the hosts downed Australia by 38 runs to take a crucial 2-0 lead in the ongoing five-match series. England’s win was built on a fine hundred from Jason Roy and stand-in skipper Jos Buttler who chipped in with a superlative unbeaten 91. However, the hosts didn’t have it as easy with Shaun Marsh proving to be a thorn in their flesh with a superb 131 but for the lack of support, the tourists couldn’t eventually get over the line.
While England had as many as five fifty-plus partnerships, Australia could only stitch three such stands, which proved to be the major difference in both the chases, other than the tourists’ misfiring top order with the exception of Marsh. While Buttler is happy with the victory, he still believes there are on many counts that the hosts can improve on.
“I think we’ve still got areas we can improve on to polish up and make us more rounded performers,” Buttler said. “As we always do we’re looking to strive to get better. We actually got into a position where we probably could have got a few more, and I thought Australia bowled pretty well at the end.
“[Roy] played very well from ball one today. It was fantastic to watch, I thought he paced it very well. But a fantastic innings from him and great to see,” the stand-in skipper mentioned.
Although 342 on most days would assure you of a win but Marsh had other ideas as he combined with Ashton Agar for the sixth wicket to keep up Australia’s fight amid a top-order failure. The hosts then banked on proven performers like Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali to come to the fore, and that they did by sharing nine wickets between them. “Wickets for those guys was crucial at those times. They’ve been two great wicket-takers for us over the past two years. Adil, I thought he took the pressure of bowling at the end with batters coming after him really well, so that’s really encouraging signs for him, and Liam continues to be one of our best strike-bowlers,” Buttler noted.
“They were playing very well. As you see in cricket all around the world 10 an over is very achievable, especially when you have a guy playing as well as Shaun Marsh was. We had to fight hard and keep fighting but 40 runs is a good victory margin in the end.”
Australia captain Tim Paine too lauded Marsh’s efforts but rued lack of support for the southpaw. “The way Shaun Marsh played throughout our innings showed that we could have chased them. If he continues to play like that he’ll continue to play a lot of cricket for Australia. We just didn’t have anyone go with him unfortunately until Ashton came out there at the end and got us back in the game,” Paine noted.
“It would have been nice to have been a wicket or two more in hand when Shaun started to go there but I suppose when you’re that many wickets down and getting into the tail it can be hard work. Ashton came out and I thought played superbly and gave us a chance but unfortunately we just didn’t get over the line.”
Despite the loss, Paine believed that Australia has it in them to bounce back and get on top in the series, but it was for the lack of an all-round performance so far in the series that the No.1 side has got the better of them on both occasions. “I think our best cricket is good enough to beat these guys, we just haven’t put the complete package together. The first game we didn’t bat well, and today we didn’t bowl or field as well as we’d have liked. If you give England a chance they are going to be all over you, they’re the best one-day side in the world.”
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