Having drawn first blood in the three-match ODI series against England, Australia would take plenty of heart; not just from the victory, but in the manner that they achieved it to go along with 10 much deserved points. England’s rampant top-order batsmen were made to keep absolutely quiet against a very disciplined and hostile Australian fast bowling unit, something that used to be a familiar sight in the previous decade; more so prior to that.
Add to that, Australian captain Aaron Finch will be pleased with the way their middle-order performed after half the side were back in the hut. Mitchell Marsh, whom he talked up quite a lot in the pre-match press conference, played the anchor’s role to perfection, supporting Glenn Maxwell at the other end, which helped Australia get to 294. Although there is still room for improvement for Marsh in terms of big hitting at the death overs, he would definitely be motivated by his efforts on Friday.
One thing is for sure, this is going to be a tough series for Jason Roy, one that can make or break his future in One Day International Cricket. The Australian pacers have probably figured out the way to invoke a false stroke from the opening batsman, constantly pitching at a good length at good pace trying to gain some lateral movement as well in order to make him push forward and away from his body.
ALSO READ: England v Australia, 1st ODI, Old Trafford – Billings’ maiden hundred not enough as Australia earn 10 points
Roy’s inability to tackle spinners on a dustbowl might add up to his challenges as well. Like Bairstow did in the first game, in order to gain success over the next two matches, Roy, who hasn’t had the greatest run of form post lockdown, needs to be a lot more patient, start working on his virtually non-existent game off the backfoot, concentrate on grinding in and then teeing off once he’s had a feel of the conditions and the situation.
It feels quite unsatisfactory that an elegant Cricketer like Moeen Ali has had so little success in the recent past, both with the bat and the ball. Having shown signs of promise in the third T20I against Pakistan after a prolonged horror run with the bat, Moeen has done very little since then. 59 runs off 10 unsuccessful overs on a turning track the day before yesterday only adds up against his case.
With Sam Billings hitting a good patch with the bat last game, the inevitable return of Ben Stokes to the ODI team in the near future, and with plenty of spin bowling all-rounders waiting in the wings, time seems to be running out for the current England vice-captain in white ball Cricket.
While their top-order batsmen, including skipper Aaron Finch, will be rueing on the fact that they fell so cheaply having done the hard work of handling the pace of Archer and Wood in the first 10 overs. It will be interesting to see whether Steven Smith, who missed the first game due to a blow to the head a day before, replaces Marcus Stoinis, who has shown signs of promise in the previous two white-ball matches, or Marnus Labuschagne, who has been nothing short of a revelation for Australia across formats and requires more exposure and game time in order to flourish.
Team news – England
Eoin Morgan said before the ODI series that his side would look to prepare rigorously to defend their World Championship title in 2023, played on the dustbowls of the sub-continent. Even if it meant foregoing series wins, the England side would desperately want to get habituated to those conditions in three years’ time, hence the contempt with the kind of surface on offer.
Morgan would want to back his best XI throughout the series, so we might witness an unchanged team for today. Sam Curran can be brought into the side to add a new dimension to the bowling attack, but Chris Woakes’ ability to inflict movement both off the air and the pitch makes it tough for a swap between the two all-rounders.
Probable XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
Team news – Australia
Steven Smith is set to return to the side after passing his second concussion test. Stoinis’ 34-ball 43 in the first game, batting at number 3 against Archer and Wood in the powerplay, might tempt the Australian camp to give him one more fair opportunity at the top-order, meaning that Marnus Labuschagne, unfortunately, might have to miss out.
Mitchell Starc slipped on the outfield while fielding on Friday, which has caused him a little soreness on his leg. Australia would dearly want his services after the fiery display he put in the opening few overs two days ago, but if they consider the injury to be too grave, they can opt for the services of Kane Richardson.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Stoinis, Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, Lancashire
The trend of winning the toss and piling up runs on the board seems to be returning with the kind of conditions on offer in Manchester. The same wicket from the previous game will be used, presumably much to the delight of Adil Rashid and Adam Zampa. Clear skies and a full game of Cricket is expected as the English summer starts drawing to an end.