England fall swinging in first Twenty20

Just as the transition from Tests to one-dayers did not transform England's tour of woe neither has the shift to Twenty20 internationals, with Australia withstanding a late Ravi Bopara flurry to cruise to a 13-run win in the series-opener in Hobart.

Needing to score 214 to win, a record for any country, England's chase was as good as doomed when it lost four wickets within the first seven overs. Bopara's plucky batting (65 not out off 28 balls) and Australia's poor bowling at the death took the visitors to 9-200.

The absence of Twenty20 stalwarts David Warner and Shane Watson from Australia's top order was barely felt as replacement batsmen Cameron White (75 off 43) and Chris Lynn (33 not out off 19) both thrived, and strengthened their claims for World Twenty20 selection, as Australia surged to 4-213 at Blundstone Arena.

Opener Aaron Finch (52 off 31) started the onslaught, reaching a century partnership with White in just the 10th over. The most savage treatment was reserved for seamer Jade Dernbach and left-armer spinner Danny Briggs, who between them were pummeled for 103 runs from their eight overs, including 11 fours and four sixes.

England's hopes of making early inroads into Australia's top-order was thwarted by its own hand(s), with Joe Root spilling a straightforward slips chance from Finch in the third over when he was eight.

The visitors had to wait another eight overs to see the back of Finch, by which stage Australia had 104 runs on the board. Finch's departure did not hinder the scoring rate, however, with White and Glenn Maxwell continuing Australia's aggression. All-rounder Maxwell's short stay included a typically audacious reverse sweep, the type the triggered his dismissal for 20 off 13, that he dispatched well over the short hill-side boundary.

White's innings was typical of him over the past year. He started slowly but once he settled he struck boundaries at a pace to even challenge Finch. Power was the key to most of his boundaries - a second-over pull off Dernbach was hard to locate in the building site outside the long boundary - but it even featured finesse, such as with a reverse paddle off Briggs.

With both White and Maxwell gone by the 16th over the home team needed its new batsmen to be able to hit out straight away if it was to post the 200-plus score its openers set the platform for. The player who delivered was debutant Chris Lynn, whose three sixes took him an unbeaten 33 from 19 deliveries.

For England to threaten Australia's score it realistically required at least one of its destructive top three - Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Luke Wright - to bat for the majority of the innings. All went within the first five overs, and by the seventh over they were joined by finisher Eoin Morgan.

Even though Lumb departed in the second over for nine it was not panic stations for England, because Hales was striking the ball so well at the other end and Wright started similarly.

Australia captain George Bailey's introduction of Moises Henriques during the powerplay, despite his potential to leak runs, was pivotal. In that over he had Wright chopping onto his stumps for nine and Hales trapped leg-before for 22 off 12 balls.

At 3-45 England's chances were as good as over. The result seemed even more inevitable at 4-51, when Morgan was bowled for four after a failed attempt to drag Maxwell to the short hill-side boundary. The 46-run partnership that followed between Joe Root (30 off 21) and Jos Buttler (20 off 14) gave England hope, until both fell to Nathan Coulter-Nile in the 11th over.

The story England fall swinging in first Twenty20 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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