T20 World Cup: England rediscover ruthless streak but now need favour from Australia to progress | Cricket News


Job done.

That was captain Jos Buttler’s appraisal as England kick-started their T20 World Cup title defence with a thumping, net run-rate-swelling win over Oman in Antigua on Thursday.

It was a job done so well, in fact, they were able to clock off early.

England's net run-rate is now superior to Scotland's
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England’s net run-rate is now superior to Scotland’s after the thrashing of Oman

The game lasted just 16.3 overs, with England torpedoing Oman for 47 in 13.2 and then sprinting to their target of 48 in just 19 balls, propelling their net run-rate above Scotland’s in the process.

Yes, the opposition was not the strongest – Oman were made to look like the 19th-best T20I side in the world – but this was England back at their ruthless best.

Gone were the wickets off no-balls, litany of fielding errors and odd decisions that blighted their first two games: a rain-wrecked clash with Scotland and a 36-run defeat to Australia.

The sole fielding blemish was a dropped catch from Moeen Ali at slip off Jofra Archer and even that only cost one run with the reprieved batter, Zeeshan Maqsood, quickly offed by Mark Wood.

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Mark Wood took three wickets against Oman in Antigua, including his 50th in T20 internationals

There was no experimenting with part-time off-spinner Will Jacks in the powerplay – a move that seriously backfired against Australia when his sole over was tonked for 22 – with Oman subjected to a pace barrage from Archer and Wood and then spun into a stupor by Adil Rashid, the latter claiming 4-11 from four sublime overs.

There was then no hanging around with the bat as Phil Salt launched the first two balls of the reply for six and Buttler biffed five boundaries in an over. It was probably only the wickets of Salt and Jacks that extended the chase into a fourth over.

Job done. Well, job half done.

Namibia should be blown away. They were bowled out for 72 by Australia so we could have a big mismatch. England need another ruthless performance so that if they do get through to the Super 8s they will be better for the run and have game-time in their legs.

Sky Sports Cricket’s Ian Ward

England still need to defeat Namibia in Antigua on Saturday – anything less and they will be going home – but their enormous margin of victory over Oman means any win will almost certainly be enough now, as long as Scotland are beaten by Australia in St Lucia.

How will Australia approach Scotland clash?

Net-run rate is in England’s favour but what about Australia’s morals?

Pace bowler Josh Hazlewood spoke – before England stormed past Scotland in terms of net run-rate – about his nation possibly attempting a go-slow chase in order to knock Buttler’s boys out, saying it was in “their best interest” to eliminate a title contender.

I thought it was an odd thing to say, perhaps a bit ill-advised, but I think it was blown out of proportion. If you start messing with cricket, it can come back to bite you. Australia will want to put in their best performance against Scotland to keep that momentum going.

Sky Sports’ Ian Ward on Josh Hazlewood’s comments

Net run-rate is no longer a worry for England, though, and the chances of Hazlewood’s side losing on purpose to scupper their long-time rivals would appear non-existent.

Sure, it is in an Australian cricketer’s DNA to want England to suffer but it is also in their DNA to want to win themselves at all costs. There have been various examples of that over the years…

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Jonny Bairstow was controversially stumped by Alex Carey on the final day at Lord’s during last summer’s second Ashes Test

Antipodean skulduggery probably won’t come into play, then – skipper Mitchell Marsh could be slapped with a two-game ban if it does – with Pat Cummins insisting Hazlewood’s comments were tongue in cheek and that Australia would never seriously consider manipulating the result: “I think you are trying your best every time and if you are not, that’s probably against the spirit of cricket.”

Scotland may face an altered Australia side, however, with the temptation there to rest players ahead of the Super 8s and assess their bench strength. Cameron Green, Josh Inglis and Ashton Agar are yet to play in the tournament so may be handed some action.

Seamer Cummins added: “I haven’t spoken to the selectors or anyone, so I don’t know what they’re thinking [about rotation] but I wouldn’t be surprised.

“I know going into the start of the tournament, in a perfect world, we’d get a game into just about all the squad members.”

Scotland's captain Richie Berrington, left, and batting partner Chris Greaves celebrate after beating Namibia by 5 wickets
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Scotland will qualify for the T20 World Cup Super 8s if they beat Australia in St Lucia

Scotland will look to catch any new faces in the Australia XI cold as they target a win that will take them through at England’s expense.

That is their best bet of progression as, while washouts in either of the final two Group B games will be enough for Scotland, the forecast in both Antigua and St Lucia seems okay at the minute.

Having obliterated Oman, England can sniff round two, and no side will fancy facing them in the next stage after that cold-blooded performance against the associate nation.

Buttler’s team will now be hoping for a repeat against Namibia and for Australia to then show a similar ruthlessness against Scotland.

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Phil Salt gave England’s run chase against Oman an explosive start with successive sixes before he was bowled third ball

What’s next?

England play Namibia in Antigua from 6pm on Saturday (UK and Ireland time), with Scotland’s game against Australia in St Lucia starting at 1.30am on Sunday as Group B concludes.

Watch every match from the T20 World Cup, including the final in Barbados on Saturday June 29, live on Sky Sports.

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