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September 11, 2020

England v Australia

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester | Start: 10pm (AEST)

England analysis: While much was made of the world no.1 spot in the recently-completed T20 series, there’s little doubt who holds top billing in this format. England have been the dominant side in one-day cricket for three years now, and deservedly start this game (and series) as favourites. Neither side will be forgetting the last time these sides faced off; a World Cup semi-final in which Eoin Morgan’s side crushed the Aussies by eight wickets, chasing down their total with 18 overs to spare.

Man of the match in that game was Chris Woakes, and the seamer should slot straight back into their XI in this one. Should he play alongside Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, the Australian top order will be under significant pressure early. Archer and Wood hurried and troubled David Warner and Aaron Finch — considered by many the best opening pair in the world — in the second T20I, blowing them away within the power play. With the bat, Joe Root will also slot straight back into the top order after being left of the T20 squad. In 25 ODIs against the Aussies, however, Root averages less than 30 — his worst average against any nation (*minimum 5 games). He has also never scored a white ball ton against the old enemy. Could this be the series he finally does so?

Australia analysis: While they retained some pride with victory in the last T20 international, the biggest question hanging over the Aussies is just who they pick in the middle order. Over the years this is the area England has surged past the rest of the world; ball strikers in Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler far and away superior to the rest of the world. And it’s also where Australia’s arguably gone backwards. So who will they go with?

To run the rule over the XI, the top four positions are locked in. Warner, Finch, Steve Smith and the returning Marnus Labuschagne are straight in. Positions 8-11 are all but sewn up, too, with Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Adam Zampa and a choice between Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood for the third seamer role. But the question remains who Langer will opt for in positions 5, 6 and 7. Mitch Marsh leads the race as both the incumbent as man of the match in the last T20. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis both haven’t played an ODI for over a year, but Maxwell’s far superior strike-rate and spin should thwart him above his Melbourne Stars teammate. Then it’s a toss-up between Alex Carey and Matthew Wade for the wicket keeper’s spot. Carey has scored just 131 runs in 12 games (both ODI and T20I) for Australia in 2020 at a measly average of 11.9. Wade, by contrast, was impressive in the last T20. Just who the Aussies opt for in these spots – and whether they can get the job done when it matters – is likely to determine Game 1 and the series.

Betting: World Cup winning skipper Ricky Ponting admits that Australia “has some work to do” in ODI cricket. England, by contrast, are the finished article. But on their day the Aussies have enough to topple the world’s best side — especially if Warner and Finch get off to a flyer. Expect the games in this series to be tight, mirroring the T20s. Similarly, look for spin to play a bigger and bigger role as the series rolls on. In the individual markets, Warner has averaged over 60 since his return to ODI cricket post-sandpaper, and is a strong runscorer option. Similarly, Jos Buttler appears in career-best touch and is tough to look beyond in this one. Starc was back to his best in the final T20 and should be looked at closely in the wicket-taker markets given his ability with both the new ball and at the death. For England, Adil Rashid is the middle overs king and should cause Langer’s side issues.

Head to Head: England
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: David Warner
Most Wickets – Aust: Mitchell Starc
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Jos Buttler
Most Wickets – Opponent: Adil Rashid