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Wednesday September 16
England v Australia
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester | Start: 10:00pm (AEST)
England analysis: England have been the dominant white ball side of the last four years, wowing the cricketing world with brute power and unmatched dominance with the bat. But in the last fortnight they’ve shown the more subtle art to their craft, twice coming back from almost impossible positions to claim incredible victories. In Game 1 of the T20 series, needing 39 off 38 balls, Australia were cruising to victory until Morgan’s side put the squeeze on, executing brilliantly to stifle the Aussies. Then, in Game 2 of the ODI series on Sunday night, the Aussies needed just 88 off 116 balls with both Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne ticking along in what appeared a series-winning partnership. But again, England rose to the challenge and took an incredible 7/23 to humble the tourist again.
It would appear Morgan’s side hold a mental edge over the Aussies when bowling second, so he will almost certainly bat first if given the opportunity again. Pace-off was the order of the day in Game 2, and Tom Curran should hold his place over Mark Wood. Similarly, they’ll likely opt for brother Sam (3/35 off 9 in Game 2) over Moeen Ali.
England haven’t lost a home ODI series since back in 2015. That incredible record is on the line here, for what should be a fitting end to their summer.
Australia analysis: It’s hard to dress up Australia’s loss in Game 2 as anything other than a ‘choke’, surrendering a seemingly unlosable position for the second time in the tour to hand the hosts victory. Close followers of the game will recognise the current situation as a role reversal from previous decades; it’s England who’ve often stuttered on the precipice of victory. Now, however, it’s the Aussies. What’s clear is that Justin Langer’s side are strong frontrunners; in four of five games in this tour to date, they’ve come out on top of early exchanges. But in contrast with Australian teams of Langer’s playing days, they continue to leave the door ajar for their opposition. And England are exploiting that lack of ruthlessness, something that will please the coach no end.
Steve Smith is firming for a return in the series decider, and would appear likely to replace Marcus Stoinis who has filled his spot at three in Games 1 and 2. Smith was struck on the head in the nets and has passed multiple concussion tests. However team staff have been extra cautious with his return, perhaps with the knowledge it was just over a year ago he was struck by a brutal blow from Jofra Archer at Lord’s. Giving the worn nature of the Manchester pitch, too, Langer might consider bringing in variation specialist Kane Richardson.
Betting: What’s been clear for the entire tour is that late summer, wearing pitches have dominated and this clash — the third in six days at Old Trafford — will be no different. Spin and pace-off deliveries will likely dominate, and it’s reasonable to expect the team batting first could struggle to surpass 250. Given the first two games of the One Day series have provided lots to the seamers early, it’s tempting to have the likes of Jofra Archer or Josh Hazlewood/Mitchell Starc in the leading wicket-taker markets but I’m sticking with the wrist spin of both Adil Rashid and Adam Zampa to take the most scalps. With the bat, the more innings have progressed at Old Trafford the more difficult them become to compile an innings. As such, look for a top order player on either side in the runscorer markets. I’m opting for Marnus Labuschagne and Jason Roy, who was unluckily run out after a positive start in Game Two. As for the head to head? It’s a real toss up. England — but only just.
Head to Head: England
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: Marnus Labuschagne
Most Wickets – Aust: Adam Zampa
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Jason Roy
Most Wickets – Opponent: Adil Rashid