Toned down, is what comes to mind when you compare England and Australia’s recent “subtle” matches to their earlier sledge-filled clashes. But it doesn’t mean that the town don’t put everything else they have out there. England already had a 1-0 lead and going into the second ODI of the 5-match NatWest series, at the Oval, they were in top form, mind and body. One thing that would bother them though, was the fact that they hadn’t won a match on this famed ground since 1997, and they were looking to put those past demons away..
The scoresAustralia 251 for 7 wkts in 50 ovs.
England 251 for 4 wkts in 45.4 overs.
Full scorecard : 2nd ODI, 1 July 2012.
Australia on the other hand, still had their hopes up looking at the four matches remaining. But after fast emerging bowler Pat Cummins’ injury (side strain) while playing the first ODI, which ruled him out of the rest of the series, it would be that much harder. Luck had favored the Aussies again in the toss, and this time, they decided to bat first. Watson and Warner opened for their team and the match was underway.
It was a decent start by both teams, with England getting the early breakthrough as Warner fell. Watson though, was in no mood to head back to the lockers early and picked the pace up. He scored a fast paced half century and went on to make 66 which, along with George Bailey’s 65, were the only decent performances by the Australian batsmen. Almost every other player crashed out after reaching two-figure scores for their team. Although the rains did show up early in the innings, it was just a passing shower and no overs were cut. At the end of the innings, Australia’s total stood at 251 for 7. England’s bowlers had done a good job of restricting their rivals and getting regular wickets, and it seemed like a comparatively easy journey to the finish from here.
Australia needed to tighten things up with the ball but it was the exact opposite. Big names like Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson fumbled a lot, giving away a lot of runs in balls that were so wide they would race off to the boundary. Johnson had a particularly bad over at the beginning of the innings, bowling two no balls and both the free hits being blasted away to fours. Kevin Pietersen’s replacement Ian Bell was definitely making a name for himself, scoring a half century and going on to reach a deserving 75, but it was not until Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan started their partnership that things really got out of hand for the Aussies. England were now powering through, and got their win with more than 4 overs remaining. Morgan’s 43 from 40 balls and Bopara’s quick-fire 82, which earned him the Man of the Match award, had taken the hosts to 2-0, with England now requiring just one more win from the remaining 3 matches for the series victory.
Australia now have to give it everything they’ve got to get back into this. They’ll definitely need to look into the sloppy fielding and poorer bowling if they want to better their fading chances. England on the other hand, can let off some steam for now, but they’ll be eyeing for a couple more wins as a whitewash in their favor would send them rocketing up to the #1 ICC ODI ranking. They have won an ODI against Australia at the Oval after almost 15 years, which is definitely something to celebrate about. The third ODI of the series happens at Edgbaston on the 4th of July and, given the current form, England will be looking to wrap it up. Can the Australians bounce back? Watch this space for the latest details.