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Wednesday, September 9
England v Australia
Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton | Start: 03:00AM (AEST)
England analysis: After getting out of jail in Game 1, the second clash of this series was dominated by England who controlled the contest throughout. Swiftly adjusting with the ball, Jofra Archer and the England seamers got on top early and the Aussies never clawed their way back. Perhaps most pleasing for England was the form of Jos Buttler, who navigated the chase with power and poise. Unfortunately for the hosts, however, Buttler will miss the final game of the series for family reasons.
While the final game of the T20 series may appear a dead rubber with England up 2-0, the truth is there’s a significant carrot dangling in front of Chris Silverwood’s side. If they pull off the series sweep, England will snatch the World No.1 ranking from Australia. Batsman Dawid Malan, who has been excellent thus far this series, said while it wasn’t a key goal heading into the game, the ranking would be a big bonus. “It’s been talked about loosely, but I don’t think we go into series to become the No.1 or No.2 or No.3 team,” he said. “But if we do manage to win tomorrow and put the Aussies under more pressure, it’ll be fantastic to finish No.1.”
Australia analysis: The Aussies were rattled by the pace of Archer and Mark Wood in the opening overs of Game 2. In being reduced to 3-30 (despite having three world-class batsmen in their top order) the game was essentially lost before it had properly begun. Make no mistake this is their key area of improvement for Game 3. With a (currently) unconvincing middle-order, the bulk of Australia’s runs must come from it’s top order stars. Alex Carey, who has managed just three runs from 12 balls in the series to date, will be desperate for some more time in the middle.
Despite what players might say in the press, retaining the No.1 ranking is not insignificant for Justin Langer’s side. For many years the Aussies were mediocre in the game’s shortest format (Steve Smith recently admitted they’d not taken it as seriously as the other forms), and it’s a point of pride that they reached the top. As such, they won’t be willing to give up the spot easily. Especially not to their greatest rivals. Just how big a bearing Langer puts on the game will determine the makeup of the final XI. If he’s desperate to win then there won’t be many, if any, changes.
Betting: Given it’s the third game in five days on the same Southampton pitch, spin will undoubtedly play a significant role in Game 3. As such, it goes without saying that the two wrist spinners in Adil Rashid and Adam Zampa should be looked at closely in wicket-taker markets. With the bat, it’s becoming increasing hard to ignore the exploits of Malan. With 661 runs at 50.84 in his 15 T20I appearances (which includes one ton and seven half-centuries) the left-hander is making a huge case for retention when Jason Roy and Ben Stokes returns. And with Buttler out, he represents a strong top runscorer option on Wednesday morning. For the Aussies, look for David Warner to bounce back from disappointment in Game 2.
At the head-to-head level, Buttler’s absence is huge and potentially match-defining. As such, look for the Aussies to restore some pride.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: David Warner
Most Wickets – Aust: Adam Zampa
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Dawid Malan
Most Wickets – Opponent: Adil Rashid