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Posted: Sunday 16 June, 2024 at 3:09 PM

Australia scrape home in instant classic against brave-hearted Scotland

By: ICC,

    ...How Australia rallied late to end Scotland's qualifying dreams and do rivals England the ultimate favour.


    CASTRIES, St.Lucia -- Australia have helped nemesis England progress into the second round of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, edging out Scotland in a memorable battle.


    Needing a victory to move forward and end the English outfit’s title defence, the Scots made the unbeaten Aussies dig incredibly deep for the win. Australia needed 19.4 overs to chase down Scotland’s lofty total, saluting with two balls to spare in Saint Lucia.


    After opting to make a couple of changes, ahead of moving into the tournament's next stage, Mitch Marsh won the toss for the Aussies and sent in the Scots.


    Ashton Agar was one of the players that came into the team and it looked like a masterstroke, picking up the scalp of Michael Jones first over.


    But Scotland quickly overcame the early blow, compiling a mega Powerplay through Brandon McMullen and George Munsey.


    Munsey went 6-6-4 to end the fifth over, a costly sequence off Glenn Maxwell’s bowling.


    And McMullen was the head of the snake in the first six overs, leading the Scots to 54 runs in the Powerplay for the loss of just one wicket.


    It laid the perfect platform for the underdogs to tee off from there and the punishment continued. McMullen brought up his 50 off just 26 balls in the eighth over.


    Maxwell took the breakthrough wicket, removing Munsey (35 off 23) at the end of the ninth, ending a brutal 89-run partnership.


    Scotland pressed on, as the Aussies let them off the hook a couple of times, grounding half-chances in the field. They got to 96/2 at drinks and then captain Richie Berrington joined the fray with a boundary that took Maxwell’s figures to 1/41 off three overs.


    In-form spinner Adam Zampa then removed McMullen (60 off 34), a pivotal moment. It was a spirited 12th over that cost the Aussies just one run.


    And Maxwell fought back in his final over, pinching the wicket of Matthew Cross (18 off 11) with a full toss that was hit hard but fell just short of the rope and caught by Agar.


    Berrington had to take the reins for Scotland, as Australia worked hard to put the brakes on the Scots’ run rate. The Scottish skipper anchored the second half of the innings, helping his side push to a total of 180.


    Maxwell was the only bowler that picked up multiple wickets, finishing with 2/44 off four overs, while Berrington made 42* off 31 balls.


    And while none of Australia’s missed chances in the field were straight forward, the powerhouse side made unwanted history – they were the first team in T20 World Cup history to drop six catching opportunities in an innings.


    Like the Aussies, Scotland landed an early blow with the ball, as Brad Wheal forced David Warner to sky a delivery that moved across him – Berrington wasn’t going to drop it.


    In the absence of his opening partner, Travis Head tried to take the initiative to keep Australia’s chase ticking over. And more expectation would sit with the 30-year-old when Marsh holed out to deep midwicket to start the sixth over.


    The Aussies’ Powerplay looked nothing like Scotland’s, arriving at the six-over mark 36/2 – 18 runs shy of where the Scots were.


    Australia’s first maximum finally came in the seventh over, courtesy of Head, who moved into the 30s. But he’d witness another dismissal at the other end, as Maxwell (11 off 8) was beaten by a fierce Mark Watt ball that spun away from the right-hander and collected the off peg.


    The Aussies got to drinks at 74/3 with Marcus Stoinis at the crease and plenty of work to do.


    The drinks break would ignite Australia’s fightback, prompting a Head and Stoinis partnership of 80 runs that included 12 boundaries. Head got to 50 before putting one down the throat of Jones at long off, with the Aussies 140/4 midway through the 16th over.


    Stoinis had taken charge as the danger player by then, though, and his hitting continued. Having already saved Australia’s bacon once this tournament already, against Oman, he pounded 59 runs off 29 balls before finally missing one – bowled attempting a reverse sweep.


    In the team for exactly the task at hand, Tim David (24* off 14) ensured Australia reeled in the requirement to a run-a-ball in the third-last over. And still with plenty of wickets in hand, David sealed the deal with two deliveries to spare.


    The result ends Scotland's campaign, but does England an enormous favour in the process.


    The Aussies can now focus on their next game, in the T20 World Cup’s second round, on June 20 – their opponent is yet to be determined.


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