Australia crush Scotland by 5 wickets; England enter Super Eight of T20 World Cup

PTI, Jun 16, 2024, 9:54 AM IST

GROS ISLET (ST LUCIA): Australia did their arch-rivals England a massive favour with a five-wicket win over a gritty Scotland as the Richie Berrington-led side crashed out of the T20 World Cup Super Eight stage race here.

With England hammering Namibia earlier in the day in a rain-truncated game, all that Jos Buttler’s side needed was Australia’s win over Scotland to a get a lifeline.

Australia scored 186/5 while chasing 181 in 19.4 overs after Scotland fought right until the end to keep their hopes alive.

After putting on a formidable total on board, Scotland had even reduced an edgy Australia to 60/3 at one stage but their most successful batters in this World Cup — Travis Head (68) and Marcus Stoinis (59) — delivered again.

With Australia’s chase appearing to be falling apart, the in-from Head and Stoinis joined forces to bring them back in the game.

On a wicket where batters could swing their willows without fretting much over the pace or movement off the surface, the two seasoned campaigners put the Scottish resolve to a stern test with a sturdy 80-run association for the third wicket off only 44 balls.

Head smacked four sixes and five fours to top score with 68 off a mere 49 balls but Stoinis was more aggressive, cracking nine fours and two sixes to make a quickfire 59 from a mere 29 balls.

But before that, there were some nervous moments for the former champions when David Warner (1) was removed from the equation early, skipper Mitchell Marsh failed to impose himself, and Glenn Maxwell’s torrid run with the bat continued.

Maxwell was done in by one from Mark Watt that straightened enough to beat his bat and crash into the top of the off-stump, extending the all-rounder’s struggles further with the bat, even though he claimed two wickets in the first half. Earlier, Scotland put their best foot forward in terms of setting a formidable total against the heavyweights, finishing at 180 for five after being asked to bat first.

Australia had expectedly rested some of their frontline pacers and their absence was felt with the others not producing as much impact and control as their first-choice bowling attack can.

Brandon McMullen was the star with the bat for the Scots as he took on the Australian bowling, hitting six sixes and two fours to race to 60 from a mere 34 balls and set up a strong platform for his side following an early blow.

Aston Agar had cleaned up opener Michael Jones for two in the first over but the pair of McMullen and George Munsey produced an excellent recovery for Scotland, putting on 89 runs for the second wicket in a mere 48 balls.

If McMullen was more belligerent of the two, Munsey played his part well with a 23-ball 35, which was studded with three sixes and a couple of fours. After the pair was separated, Scotland skipper Richie Berrington took charge of taking his side forward as he forged multiple crucial stands with the following batters to take them to 180.

Berrington made 42 not out from 31 balls with two sixes and a four to keep pushing on for the Scots, even as Australia looked to pull things back in the last five overs, conceding 42 runs.

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