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Australia fumble to victory over Scotland and save England from early T20 World Cup exit
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Australia fumble to victory over Scotland and save England from early T20 World Cup exit

Australia have given England a Twenty20 World Cup reprieve after surviving a scare in St Lucia to claim a last-over five-wicket win over Scotland.

With their own progression to the Super Eight stage already assured, Australia were well below their best as they chased down Scotland’s 5-180 with two balls to spare. Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis were the saviours for Australia, each hitting a half-century and combining for an 80-run stand that changed the match.

Tim David and Matt Wade took the game to the death, before a dropped catch from Chris Sole in the last over allowed Australia to get home. The result means England will join Australia in progressing out of Group B, thanks to a superior net run-rate than Scotland, whose World Cup has come to an end.

But for long periods of the match it appeared England’s tournament could be over.

With Pat Cummins rested and Stoinis not bowling, Australia dropped six catches in the field and looked at risk of their first ever T20 loss to an associate nation. Brandon McMullen whacked 60 from 34 balls for the Scots, clubbing half-a-dozen sixes in his knock and regularly going inside out over long off.

Scotland’s Brandon McMullen punished loose Australian bowling to build a big total of 180.View image in fullscreen

Adam Zampa eventually got his wicket when he beat the right-hander in flight and had him well caught at short third-man by Mitchell Starc, slowing Scotland’s momentum in the process. Glenn Maxwell claimed 2-44, copping some punishment before he out-thought opener George Munsey (35 off 23) in another crucial moment.

In reply, Australia struggled to catch fire and sat at 1-36 after six overs and their slowest powerplay of the competition. When the equation reached 107 needed from the final 10 overs, England would have been considering booking their flights home.

But Head (68 from 49 balls) and Stoinis (59 off 29) were able to bat their side back into the match.

Stoinis was the first to make an impact. With 89 needed from 42 balls, he took 18 off one over from Safyaan Sharif when he switch-hit him for six and then cleared the rope down the field next ball.

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Marcus Stoinis scored a calm and quickfire 59 to lead Australia to a final-over victory in St Lucia.View image in fullscreen

“I was just trying to keep (Head) batting, and then he picked his bowler and turned the game in that over with those three sixes,” Stoinis said.

“There is no substitute for confidence. That is the recipe we are all trying to keep hold of – to be confident for as long as we can.”

And then with 60 needed from the final overs, Head hit Sharif for three straight sixes before eventually being caught down the ground a few balls later. By then, the damage was done and any thought of Australia deliberately knocking England out of the tournament had been shown up as a myth.

David finished the job, knocking Scotland out and taking Australia unbeaten into the Super Eights, where they are likely to face India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

“That was more external than internal,” captain Mitch Marsh said of the talk of easing England out of the tournament. “We spoke pre-game about sticking to our game and how we want to try and win games of cricket … It was a good chase in the end.”

Source: theguardian.com