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Sunday September 14
England v Australia
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester | Start: 10:00pm (AEST)
England analysis: While England might be the no.1 ODI side in the world, they’re looking over their shoulder at no.5 after the Aussies proved too strong in the ODI series opener at Old Trafford. The host’s rollicking start reduced Aaron Finch’s side to 5/125, but from there they failed to ram home the advantage and eventually paid the price. It wasn’t a poor performance by any means — Sam Billings’ first international hundred a clear highlight. But there’s work to do ahead of Sunday’s second clash.
On the field England had nine of the 11 players that won last year’s World Cup, yet were decidedly lacklustre following their opening burst with the new ball. Issues with their fielding remain, as Eoin Morgan’s side were again show up by the men in green and gold. Then with the bat, heralded as they may be, a top three of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root were all at sea against the Australian quicks, particularly man of the match Josh Hazlewood. Bairstow went on to compile 84, but at a strike-rate of just 78 (compared to a career S/R of 105). They’ll come back hard in this one, though. It’s rare that Roy, Root and Jos Buttler return single-figure scores and one of those more than likely to anchor things on Sunday.
Australia analysis: Australia’s win in Game 1 was arguably their best since defeating England at Lord’s in last year’s World Cup. Reduced to 5/123 batting first, Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell’s 126-run partnership ensured Aaron Finch’s side reached a defendable total of 294. Then a bowling effort led by Hazlewood (3-26 from 10 overs) saw them home by 19 runs. The Marsh/Maxwell partnership — Australia’s highest for the sixth wicket against England — was key for a number of reasons. Chiefly, the middle order was the primary cause for concern heading into this series, with Justin Langer’s side unstable at positions 5, 6 and 7. The confidence this might give (to an otherwise settled lineup) going forward can’t be underestimated.
Selection-wise, there’s concerns heading into Game 2 over the fitness of Steve Smith and Mitch Starc. Smith was struck on the head in the lead-up to the series opener and was replaced by Marcus Stoinis. Starc strained his groin and is now in doubt. The medicos will be everything in their power to get the pair up as the Aussies haven’t beaten England in a bilateral series since 2015. If they can’t, however, it’s likely they will stick with Stoinis (who struck 43 off 34 in Game 1) and give Kane Richardson the nod.
Betting: As has been the case in the four games of this tour to date, spin will play an important role — especially on what’s a wearing square at Old Trafford. In Game 1, opposing legspinners Adam Zampa and Adil Rashid took four and two wickets respectively and as such, I’ll be sticking with them in the wicket-taker markets for this one. With the bat, while Buttler didn’t get the job done in the series opener, he remain a strong top runscorer option given the way he’s currently striking the ball. For the Aussies, Marnus Labuschagne will have every opportunity batting a number four and represents some good value for punters.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: Marnus Labuschagne
Most Wickets – Aust: Adam Zampa
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Jos Buttler
Most Wickets – Opponent: Adil Rashid