Well, rather strangely, this series has a decider. Courtesy? Australia, who have twice been kind enough towards the hosts by letting go of the winning opportunities waiting to be grabbed, probably even half-grabbed and then allowed to be slipped from the hands. How else do you explain being 143 for 2 in a chase of 231, to tumble to 166 for 8, and then to 207 all-out?
The story in the T20 series-opener at the Ageas Bowl a few days ago was no different. There Australia unfolded a marvellous collapse from 124 for 1 to 148 for 6, during a chase of 162. Result? Lost by 2 runs after putting themselves into a commanding position. Australia has allowed things to slip out of their hands not once, but multiple times in the series. And the score-line would have been certainly different, had it not been for their cavalier and negligent brand of cricket.
David Warner, who can certainly be termed Jofra Archer’s bunny (Archer has got him 7 times in 11 innings in international cricket, of which 4 have come in this series), faintly nicked his bouncer to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler. His partner, Aaron Finch, however, showed incredible caution as he eschewed resorting to his natural game and played a mature hand of 73, apart from being in a 107-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne. The phase of fruition for the tourists titillated the gambler instincts of skipper Morgan and he decided to do a “Dhoni”.
Morgan introduced Archer and Woakes in the attack in the 27th over, even if that meant that they would exhaust their quotas thereby leaving only the Curran brothers and Adil Rashid to tackle the remaining overs. The skipper’s tactical masterstroke changed the course of the game as the galloping Australia started reeling in front of the scalding duos’ might.
And that is precisely why Australia’s losses cannot solely be accredited to their sins, but also to some brilliance of their rivals. Skipper Eoin Morgan chose to set a target for Australia in the last game after winning the toss: a call he or any captain would make knowing that the same track as the last game was being used. His team kept on trying to break the shackles, on the way of which they either failed to get themselves flowing or were shushed by the seething Australian attack. However, a 76-run stand for the ninth wicket made things brighter from the home side.
Expecting a team to win that allowed the opponents to reach to 231 despite reducing them to 149 for 8, and then drowning themselves into a collapse of 144 for 2 to 207 for 10, is such wishful thinking! Well, all of what is stated above notwithstanding. Australia have shown their caliber in the first ODI by beating the world champions. England – who have remained unbeaten at home in an ODI series ever since their current opponents defeated them in 2015 – would want to guard their fortress headstrongly.
Pitch and conditions
The track in the second game was treacherously slow and low. It was rather lifeless for the batsmen and a low-scoring encounter, therefore, was not much of a surprise. However, a fresh pitch will be used for the third and final game of the series. A bit of a cloud cover is expected but the weather forecast is bright otherwise. A tad bit of autumnal dew may set in later, though not enough to have any material bearing on the result of the game.
England decided to exclude Mark Wood and Moeen Ali in the previous game and the ploy of playing the Curran brothers worked well for them. The Man of the Series in the T20Is, Jos Buttler, has not been able to emulate his form in the ODI series and with scores of 1 and 3, he must be itching to get something.
The woes of Joe Root have persisted as well. He ate up 73 deliveries for his 39 in the previous game. A positive setup has been in the bowlers, where Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes have been on the money, whereas after 3 in the last game, Sam Curran is looking good too.
Predicted XI- Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (C), Jos Buttler, Sam Billings (wk), Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer
It remains to be seen whether Steve Smith, who has passed his concussion tests successfully, would find a spot or not. If he does, he will get it at the expense of Marcus Stoinis. Aaron Finch played an uncharacteristic knock of 73 from 105, however, that is what the situation demanded him to do.
Alex Carey took the game deep, although he left too much to be chased in the end. His role as a finisher certainly needs a re-look as he exposed the No. 10 batsman quite more than expected. Adam Zampa, who failed to make a mark in the T20Is, has shone with the ball thus far. The pace battery of Australia has always been one to marvel at. Josh Hazlewood will partner Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins there.
Predicted XI- David Warner, Aaron Finch (C), Steve Smith/Marcus Stoinis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (WK), Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Joe Root (5962) needs 38 runs to reach 6000 in ODIs.
Aaron Finch (4971) needs 29 runs to reach 5000 in ODIs.
Glenn Maxwell (3955) needs 45 runs to reach 3000 in ODIs.
Tom Curran’s spell (0 for 28) was the cheapest return by an England bowler completing 10 overs without a wicket since 2006.
Head to head
Matches Played- 151 | Australia Won- 63 | England Won- 83 | Tie/NR/Abandoned- 5
Match Timings- 5:30 PM (IST), 1:00 PM (Local).
TV– Sony Six, Sony Six HD
Live Streaming– The match can be streamed online on Sony Liv and Airtel stream
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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