Buttler and Hales lay down the opening mark before Wood stars in high-scorer

Australia were on track while David Warner and Marcus Stoinis were together, while there was nearly a controversial finish

  • Rohit Singh | October 10, 2022 | 2:03 am

Alex Hales made a statement with a rapid 84, while quicks Mark Wood and Sam Curran thwarted Australia’s bold chase as England stepped up their T20 World Cup preparations with a tight eight-run victory in the series opener in Perth. In a record 132-run opening partnership for England against Australia, Hales and the returning Jos Buttler flattened a weakened attack to power the tourists to a huge total.

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An aggressive Australia, who had dropped Steven Smith, were on pace with David Warner making his second consecutive half-century. England held their nerve through quality death bowling from Wood and Curran. It was a return of international cricket in Perth since the women’s T20 World Cup in February 2020 after an easing of strict Covid-19 measures. The final two games of the series will be played in Canberra starting on Wednesday.

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Against a second-string Australia attack on a fast Optus Stadium pitch, a golden opportunity loomed for Buttler and Hales, who had been given the nod ahead of Phil Salt. Buttler demonstrated his fitness from a nagging calf injury with a blistering assault in the opening over, smashing four boundaries off Cameron Green whose first international match on his home ground started disastrously.

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In all-out attack mode, Buttler was at his brilliant best with a slew of destructive shots all around the wicket, including consecutive outrageous scoops in the fifth over against exasperated quick Kane Richardson. Hales started slowly, by comparison, before finding his range as the pair smashed 58 runs in the powerplay. There was no lull immediately after with Buttler launching legspinner Mitchell Swepson for consecutive sixes. They notched a century stand within nine overs before Buttler finally fell in the 12th over to Nathan Ellis.

Hales then took over in similar fashion to his dominance in the BBL to almost surely cement a spot in England’s T20 World Cup line-up. Resting their frontline attack for the sole match of the series in Perth, Australia were perhaps on a hiding to nothing. Captain Aaron Finch had hoped to take advantage of the overcast conditions and smattering of grass, but his inexperienced attack mostly copped a flogging. Green particularly struggled with a slew of half volleys and his confidence spiralled when he bowled a beamer in the 13th over.

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