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Sunday, September 6
England v Australia
Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton | Start: 11:15 PM
England analysis: England got out of jail in Game 1, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. With the Aussies needing just a run-a-ball in the last seven overs (and nine wickets in hand), somehow Eoin Morgan’s side fought back to take the edge in this series. Morgan and coach Chris Silverwood know, however, things need to change for Game 2. Bar the first and last five overs of the game, the home side were outplayed by an Australian outfit that hadn’t played international cricket in six months. In particular, England were poor with the ball throughout the power-play. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood failed to make use of the new ball and their lengths were overly varied, allowing the Australian opening pair to cut and pull at will.
While they’ll need to tighten up with the ball, the home side have little to worry about with the bat. While perhaps not at their best in the series opener, two of their top six (in Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan) managed to fire, and sometimes that’s enough in T20 cricket. Both Morgan and Tom Banton failed to fire but could well do so on Sunday night.
Australia analysis: Plain and simply, the Australians bottled what should’ve been a comfortable victory in Game 1. Never mind excuses about rustiness and not having played for six months — needing just 40 off 39 balls with nine wickets in the sheds, Justin Langer’s side made avoidable mistake after avoidable mistake to hand England a win they should’ve gobbled up themselves. Poor shots from senior players Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and David Warner opened a door for Morgan’s side, which they eventually prised open and barged through.
The positives for the Aussies, however, were obvious and something they’ll take into this now crucial clash. Besides a wayward start that allowed Jos Buttler to dominate the power play, Aaron Finch’s bowlers were on the money throughout and in the field, showing few signs of lacking match practice. They’ll likely take the same seam combination into Game 2; Kane Richardson, the only bowler perhaps with a question mark over his head, was the pick of the bowlers. With the bat, however, there’s no doubt they’ll consider bringing in Mitch Marsh for Marcus Stoinis in the middle order. While it might be harsh on the hulking all-rounder, his inability to find the boundary late in the game (he struck just one boundary off 18 balls) again showed why he should only be considered a top-order player in this format. And given he won’t be unseating Warner, Finch, or Smith, it might be time for Langer to look elsewhere.
Betting: Spin played a big role in Game 1 and, given the same pitch at the Rose Bowl is being used for all three clashes in this T20 series, it will continue to play a significant role. Pace-off was the order of the day for the seamers, too, as outright pace was exposed as ineffective in both power plays. As a result, look for the spinners to be the wicket-taking options in the crucial middle overs. For the home side that’s Adil Rashid, who got significant purchase from the surface and will do so again. For the tourists, look to the finger spin of Ashton Agar (who has taken an impressive 10 wickets in his last four T20 internationals). With the bat, the logical option in the shortest format is at the top of the order, who get the best of a hard ball and the fielders inside the ring. Three of four openers in Game 1 struck over 40. As a result for this clash I’m sticking with both Jos Buttler and Aaron Finch in the runscorer markets.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: Aaron Finch
Most Wickets – Aust: Ashton Agar
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Jos Buttler
Most Wickets – Opponent: Adil Rashid