Australian batter Glenn Maxwell is cleaned up by Scotland spinner Mark Watt during their Group ‘B’ match at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground on Sunday.—AFP
Australian batter Glenn Maxwell is cleaned up by Scotland spinner Mark Watt during their Group ‘B’ match at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground on Sunday.—AFP

GROS ISLET: Australia saw off a determined challenge from Scotland to claim a five-wicket victory in a decisive final Group B match of the T20 World Cup for both teams at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Saturday.

Replying to the Scots’ 180 for five, their highest total in a T20 World Cup match, half-centuries from Travis Head (68 off 49 balls, five fours, four sixes) and Marcus Stoinis (59 off 29 balls, nine fours, two sixes) paced them to the target and a 100 percent winning record in the group with two balls to spare.

Tim David’s unbeaten 24 off 14 balls finished the job to lift Australia to 186 for five.

But he required a generous slice of luck when dropped at deep midwicket before finishing off the match with a huge six in the same direction off the next ball from seamer Brad Wheal.

That result also eliminated Scotland and allowed title-holders England, winners earlier in the day over Namibia in a rain-affected match in Antigua, to qualify for the Super Eights phase of the competition alongside their arch-rivals by virtue of a better net run-rate than the Scots.

“The plan was the usual: get yourself in, play shots along the ground and then take it from there,” said ‘Man of the Match’ Stoinis in explaining the strategy through his innings and the 80-run fourth-wicket partnership with Head.

“I was just trying to keep him there, keep him batting and it turned the game, even though he got out in the end.”

‘STAYING CONSISTENT’

Earlier, Brandon McMullen led the Scottish effort with a topscore of 60 off 34 balls (two fours, six sixes) after they were put in.

His ultra-aggression, and support from opener George Munsey (35) in an 89-run second-wicket partnership, pushed the scoring rate up to ten runs per over. However Australia were able to regain a measure of containment when McMullen fell to leg-spinner Adam Zampa in the 12th over.

Despite a battling unbeaten 42 from skipper Richie Berrington, only 69 runs came off the last 52 balls of the innings when Scotland would have been looking to put up a total in excess of 200.

“Unfortunately in the back overs we didn’t quite manage to captalise on the good start we got with the bat,” said a disappointed Berrington. “In defending that total towards the end we just didn’t execute effectively enough. We also know they have some really good ball-strikers down the order and two big overs really cost us.” Glenn Maxwell’s off-spin earned him the best figures of two for 44 although Zampa was the most economical, conceding 30 runs off his four overs.

A team that prides itself on impeccable fielding and catching, Australia fell away from that high standard with six chances, of varying degrees of difficulty, being put down in the field. It raised speculation that the 2021 champions’ apparent lack of intensity might have been influenced by the prospect of contributing to England’s elimination.

“I think that was more of a discussion externally than internally,” was Australian captain Mitchell Marsh’s summation of that prospect. “We spoke pre-game about sticking to our plans and doing what we usually do to win games of cricket. It was about staying consistent with the way we play and if we fail, fail our way.”

Scoreboards

Scotland Vs Australia

SCOTLAND:

G. Munsey c Ellis b Maxwell 35

M. Jones b Agar 2

B. McMullen c Starc b Zampa 60

R. Berrington not out 42

M. Cross c Agar b Maxwell 18

M. Leask c Starc b Ellis 5

C. Greaves not out 9

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-7) 9

TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 180

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-3 (Jones), 2-92 (Munsey), 3-111 (McMullen), 4-136 (Cross), 5-152 (Leask)

DID NOT BAT: M. Watt, C. Sole, B. Wheal, S. Sharif

BOWLING: Agar 4-0-39-1(1w), Starc 4-0-31-0 (1w), Ellis 4-0-34-1 (3w), Maxwell 4-0-44-2 (1w), Zampa 4-0-30-1

AUSTRALIA:

T. Head c Jones b Sharif 68

D. Warner c Berrington b Wheal 1

M. Marsh c (sub) b Sharif 8

G. Maxwell b Watt 11

M. Stoinis b Watt 59

T. David not out 24

M. Wade not out 4

EXTRAS (LB-6, W-5) 11

TOTAL (for five wickets, 19.4 overs) 186

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-2 (Warner), 2-34 (Marsh), 3-60 (Maxwell), 4-140 (Head), 5-155 (Stoinis)

DID NOT BAT: A. Agar, M. Starc, N. Ellis, A. Zampa

BOWLING: Leask 4-0-39-0, Wheal 3.4-1-28-1, Watt 4-0-34-2 (1w), Sole 3-0-33-0 (1w), Sharif 4-0-42-2 (3w), Greaves 1-0-4-0

RESULT: Australia won by five wickets.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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