England and Australia meet for the second time in their three match ODI series on Sunday and after the home side claimed the T20 spoils, the tourists know if they can pick up another win at Old Trafford they will head home with the 50 over series under their belts.
This is the first of two chances Australia will have to secure that, while England head into this second encounter knowing that if they are to keep the series alive and force a decider then this is a match they have to win.
It was fairly evident from pretty early on in the first game on Friday that conditions were not the optimum ones for England to perform in. England like the ball coming onto the bat so that they can play their shots and keep on playing them but that wasn’t the test they were presented with, and in the main they failed to adjust to the challenge. Those who did profited but not enough were prepared to or able to do so.
On the face of it though England continued to bowl well and it wasn’t until deep into the Australia innings that they got away from the home side. That has been a surprising theme for these matches and Eoin Morgan will know he will need his side to continue to impress with the ball, unless his batsmen can rein themselves in and play the different game that is required on these tiring Old Trafford tracks.
While there is never a lack of confidence in the Australian side, after the way England got after them in the T20s I’m sure they would have been pleased to see the pitch at Old Trafford, and with this match being played on the same one there is no reason for them not to like what they will see once again. I wouldn’t say Australia changed their game dramatically to cope with conditions necessarily, but they are better suited to them.
Australia were very good with the ball in that opening game. They gave England absolutely nothing to hit in the powerplay and that meant that England had to take risks against the part-time bowlers but were left too much to do. If Australia just bat the middle overs a little smarter to maximise the score they can get then they are going to be hard to beat on this wicket, especially with the quality they possess with the ball.
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England generally don’t make changes when they lose, Eoin Morgan asks his side to go out and put things right and given that they are short of genuine batting backup I expect that will be the same case here for the home side.
Steve Smith missed out in the last game after taking a blow to the head somewhere along the line. He has apparently passed all the tests and could come back in for Marcus Stoinis although he might be saved for the third game if he isn’t 100%.
I like Australia here. With the exception of Jos Buttler’s brilliance and a collapse in the opening T20 there is a case to be made that they would have won all four matches on this tour and on this pitch I just think they are the smarter team. England have a style and it is one which is mighty effective but when they are asked to change from that they are not always able to. We got reminders of that at the World Cup when playing Sri Lanka in a similar situation. One or two of England’s batsmen looked a little rusty in that opening game and the pitch isn’t going to do them any favours so the 11/10 on an Australian win looks a little too big.
Adil Rashid has caused Australia no end of problems over the last couple of weeks and on a used pitch I expect that to continue here. The Australians simply can’t pick him and as a result they get in a right mess against him. He got two wickets in the first ODI and could have had even more and I see no reason why he won’t go well here either. The pitch is naturally going to suit him more so I’m surprised his performance line is only 31.5pts. That only requires two wickets, something he got in the opening ODI and twice in the three T20s. If he doesn’t get two wickets he may well get to the crease with the bat and has catching potential so his performance line feels a little low.
Finally the 9/1 on Sam Billings to top score for England looks a big price. He has been on the fringes of the England ODI side so he may not have that gung-ho approach that a lot of the England batsmen have and even if he does he’s probably the one more likely to rein it in a little in order to get a score that keeps him prominent in the plans. Billings played the perfect ODI innings on Friday. He took his time to get in and work conditions out and then when he was in he exploded into life. He has been in good nick all summer and with a few of his teammates looking out of sorts he could well secure top bat honours again here.
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