If England marginally ousted Australia in the first T20 international, the gap extended between the two sides after the second. Australia had no answers to England’s brilliance across all departments as they sealed the series right from under their nose. The stars in Southampton were in no way allied with the tourists, for their struggles kept multiplying as the match progressed.
England placed Australia backfoot from the get-go, striking with their express pacers in the first two overs. The rebuilding task kept getting more challenging as the English bowlers struck with wickets in critical moments to keep the tourists in check. The likes of Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, and Pat Cummins cobbled up 157 in their stipulated overs.
Then again, English batsmen came back harder on the Australian bowlers. Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan once more set the platform and unlike the first game, the duo did it together on this occasion. After Jonny Bairstow’s voluntary dismissal, the visitors got the second wicket in the 14th over before two more strikes to give them a slight ray of hope. However, with Buttler at the crease, he ensured England were not undergoing the Australian version of collapse.
Australia’s concerns stem mostly from their temperament and mindset since it is virtually the best team they have assimilated. Unlike English batsmen, Australians have remained defensive against the home team’s spinners and lack the self-belief to go for brave shots. Their bowling, especially the pacemen, were not utilized to good effect by Aaron Finch.
He made the debatable decision on Sunday to give the 19th over to Adam Zampa when Kane Richardson and Pat Cummins had their quota of overs remaining. However, the final T20 international allows them to preserve not only their number one ranking but also the subsequent three-match ODI series in which the Englishmen are the reigning world champions.
As far as England are concerned, the third T20 international allows them to experiment as much as possible and blood in some new faces. However, Eoin Morgan was clear he wanted to play the best side available. They could open the innings with Tom Banton, who has looked uncomfortable in the middle-order. As such, the hosts need to clean sweep Australia to top the limited-overs ranking.
England are unlikely to trigger any change as they eye the number one ranking in both white-ball formats. However, they should open with Tom Banton as the prospect of him batting with Jos Buttler looks mouth-watering. If not, the hosts could blood in Sam Billings.
Probable XI: Tom Banton, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Despite two defeats in a row, Australia are unlikely to make a change too; however, they have potential in their repertoire. They have the likes of Marnus Labushchagne, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Philippe, and Daniel Sams, all of whom are bright prospects. Hence, it remains to be seen whether the visitors will wield the axe.
Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson.
The track on Sunday, which appeared a little sluggish would be the one that will come to play on Tuesday again. The pitch could be expected to have more wear and tear for the third T20 international.
After two uninterrupted matches, the third game is also expected to pan out the same way. The remains only a six per cent chance of precipitation.
Head to Head:
Total – 18
Won by England – 8
Won by Australia – 9
No result – 1
Stats that matter:
3 – Chris Jordan remains only three wickets away from overtaking Stuart Broad as the leading wicket-taker in T20Is for England.
After two consecutive defeats, Australia will undoubtedly come back hard to win the final game against England. That will provide Aaron Finch’s men with a world of confidence ahead of the ODIs. However, England seem prepared for any kind of counterattack and could win 3-0.