Aussies and English have fought tooth and nail countless times, having convincing victories against each other as well as nail biting finishes and even though the story of first ODI of the 5-match series wasn’t as close, it was highly entertaining. The hype was the same and the crowd was also almost the same, and when the two teams started playing, one could see the seriousness and determination to not make even a single mistake, in both sides.
Just the way these two were playing showed almost everything you needed to know about the rivalry and how important it was for them to get a victory. Sheer concentration was oozing out of both the sides, who knew that this wasn’t a Test match, and that there would be a winner by the end of the day. Rains had delayed the ODI by more than half an hour, but no overs were cut. England’s perseverance and the way they handled themselves throughout the match was probably the main reason they won today (along with some home advantage). Australia had given it their all but at the end of their innings, they were 15 runs short.
First off, Australia had won the toss. Had they elected to bat first, things might have been a little different now. Instead, they chose to do the damage with the new ball with clouds overhead but England’s top order stuck to their job, with all three of them (Cook, Bell and Trott) making 40 plus runs. Jonathan Trott even got himself a fine half century. It seemed like the English lads had the Aussies’ number on this one, with all the hype surrounding their mystery bowlers coming crashing down. But all 5 bowlers managed to get a wicket each.
The man of the hour had to be Eoin Morgan, who got their team up to a bankable total, making use of the far too many full tosses by the Australian bowlers. After reaching his half century, he picked the pace up in the death overs, and how. Superb boundaries and 2 consecutive sixes off Bredd Lee saw him singlehandedly take his team from a lowly 224 for 4 in the 46th over, to a solid 272 at the last ball of the innings. He had made 89 from 63 deliveries.
Australia’s decision to field first hadn’t been a good one, as their hosts managed to slip in one too many runs in the last couple of overs. Though their fielding was tight, their miscalculations with the length of delivery had cost them dearly. With the Aussies up to the crease to bat next, England knew they needed to pull off something spectacular if they wanted to beat the #1 ODI team in the world. They bowled really well too, rarely making mistakes, and in the end, it had paid off. Sure, it was a close finish, but the English had got their win.
Australia’s top to middle order batsmen all shined to an extent, getting decent scores on the board (Warner got a half century too), with their skipper Michael Clarke being the top scorer of the innings at 61. There seemed to still be hope when Clarke’s longest staying partner, wicketkeeper Matthew Wade helped the captain reach his half century. But after Wade was run out in dramatic fashion, Clarke couldn’t stay on for much longer as well. Brett Lee tried to do something about it, scoring a pretty fast 29 runs, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Australia closed their innings at 257 for 9. Kudos the England’s bowlers who kept the run rate low when most required, and getting those wickets at regular intervals.
England have drawn first blood with a 15 run victory, clearly showing that they are not intimidated by the sheer force that is Australia. Will they be able to hold on to this form and get a couple more victories to seal the series, or will the Australians, like many times in the past, come up with something better? One battle down, 4 more to go.