England move 2-0 up as Butler scores 38-ball fifty and Jofra Archer and Mark Wood bowl superbly with the new ball
Jofra Archer and Mark Wood’s rapid new-ball blitz was followed by Jos Buttler’s ninth T20 international fifty as England eased to a series-sealing, six-wicket victory over Australia at The Ageas Bowl.
Archer and Wood – expensive as Australia got off to a flyer before collapsing to a two-run defeat in Friday’s opener – reduced the tourists to 3-2 after they elected to bat, which became 30-3 after five overs when Steve Smith was brilliantly run out by Eoin Morgan’s direct hit.
Archer (1-32) had David Warner (0) caught behind for a duck third ball, before Alex Carey (2) slashed Wood (1-25) behind in the second over as the England pair rocked Australia with their express pace, something team-mate Chris Jordan said they had also done in the first T20I.
Australia scrambled to 157-7, as Aaron Finch (40 off 33) and Marcus Stoinis (35 off 26) added 49 for the fourth wicket and Glenn Maxwell (26 off 18), among others, helped the visitors plunder 40 from the last thee overs.
But that total proved insufficient with Buttler (77no off 54) batting beautifully, sharing a second-wicket partnership of 87 with Dawid Malan (42) and sealing victory with a monstrous six off Adam Zampa as England triumphed with seven balls to spare.
A late wobble against Australia’s spinners had seen England lose three wickets for 29 runs, only for Moeen Ali (13no) to thump Zampa for six and four and Buttler to complete the win two balls later.
England will now be eyeing a 3-0 whitewash over Australia and if they do manage that they will leapfrog Aaron Finch’s side and move top of the world T20I rankings.
The only thing for Morgan – dismissed by Zampa for seven – to really stress about ahead of Tuesday’s final fixture is his finger, with the England skipper suffering an apparent dislocation as Stoinis thumped a full toss from Adil Rashid towards him at extra-cover.
Rashid (1-25) atoned for that delivery during a fine four-over spell, which concluded with Stoinis steering his final ball, a sharply-turning leg-break, to Dawid Malan at slip, five deliveries after he had blazed the spinner for six and six balls after Finch had chopped Jordan (2-40) onto his stumps.
Jordan’s close friend Archer had sent Warner – who scored an 18th T20I fifty last time out – packing for no score in the first over in Southampton, with the opener’s review only showing he had gloved behind.
Carey came and went, while Smith, whose entertaining seven-ball innings featured a four and a six, followed as Morgan shot down the stumps at the non-striker’s end having rushed round from midwicket.
England also picked up the late wickets of Maxwell and Ashton Agar (23 off 20) – Jordan dismissing Maxwell and Archer running out Agar – but Archer’s 18-run final over, which included a six and a four from Pat Cummins (13no off five balls), lifted Australia past 150.
The bizarre exit of Jonny Bairstow (9) in the third over of the chase – the England opener hitting the bails with his bat after going on the pull against Mitchell Starc – gave Australia further belief they could level the series.
That was snuffed out by Buttler and Malan, the men whom had also top-scored for the hosts in the first match of the series at the same venue, before Malan’s exit triggered some England jitters.
Australia had faltered chasing a similar total two days ago and England threatened to do the same, with Malan and Tom Banton (0) holing out in successive Agar overs and Morgan cracking Zampa to straight to cover, but those scalps came too late to affect result.