It cannot get bigger than this. England – The hot-favorites, who lost their track midway through the campaign but are back on course with two blazing wins against India and New Zealand. Australia – The five-time champions nullified whatever happened in the last one year and people barely remember how much they struggled when Warner and Smith were in exile. That’s the quality of the side, isn’t it?
The striking epiphany here is that both sides will be playing a World Cup knockout for the first time since the infamous 1987 final in Kolkata, remembered mostly for the reverse-sweep from Mike Gatting’s willow which in a way doomed the English hopes of laying hands on the championship for the first time. After a good three decades, these two sides are once again facing off in a World Cup knockout at the iconic Edgbaston, Birmingham.
So what’s on line for them? Literally everything. A lot of people in the English countryside are terming this contest as a trailer of the upcoming Ashes, which is quite a compliment underlining the paramount importance it holds. No side really wants to lose to arch-rival, that too in a game of this type and magnitude, which means there will be bodies and lives at stake and no dearth in intensity.
Peter Handscomb will be replacing Usman Khawaja in the playing XI, as confirmed by Justin Langer. Matthew Wade will perhaps sit out these two games unless Carey picks up an injury. Finch and Warner have been staggering this edition and they have two more hurdles to clear. Smith could play at his favored number three position without any competition with Khawaja’s exit.
Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa seemed a bit ineffective in the first few games, but their replacements Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon are doing a brilliant job. The man of the tournament award is Mitchell Starc’s to lose, but he can only lay hands on it if Australia go on to win their sixth title. Pat Cummins and Marcus Stoinis are the other bowling options for Finch.
David Warner, Aaron Finch (C), Peter Handscomb, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon.
England have found a nearly perfect combination for an ODI game and they are likely to go unchanged. Jason Roy’s comeback and Jonny Bairstow’s rejuvenation are the main drivers behind their resurgence this tournament in the latter half. Ben Stokes has been brilliant with the bat and also has picked 7 wickets with the ball.
Liam Plunkett’s experience was perhaps the missing piece of their bowling jigsaw and they look very strong in this department right now. Jofra Archer has been picking up big wickets, just the reason he was brought in replacing an established cricketer. Adil Rashid and Mark Wood share 24 wickets between them, with Wood picking 16 of them. They are doing a great job as well which keeps the English in a very good headspace entering this contest.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
Focus will be on
Alex Carey (Australia)
Not a lot of people have rated Alex Carey’s performances as highly as they should’ve, sheerly because the contributions were not numerically significant when compared to Aaron Finch and David Warner. But he certainly has been their third best batsmen after their openers in terms of how well he is striking the ball and the confidence with which he is approaching situations. He has been brilliant behind the wickets as well and he could earn an Ashes cut as well.
Jofra Archer (England)
With 17 wickets in 9 games, Jofra Archer very well justified his selection ahead of David Willey. The speedster now has a gigantic task of providing an early breakthrough, failing which could literally cost them the game. Aaron Finch and David Warner have been piling up runs for fun and the only way to get them dismissed soon is pace and movement in the early overs with the new ball. Woakes and Archer have a very significant task, but that’s exactly what it takes to win a World Cup knockout.
Head to head
Matches played – 148 | Australia won – 82 | England won – 61 | Tied – 2 | No Result – 3
10 – England has won 10 of their last 12 meetings against Australia.
19 – David Warner needs 19 runs to complete 5,000 ODI runs.
TV – Star Sports
Live Streaming – Hotstar
Match Timings – 15:00 IST; 10:30 local.
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