Australia’s victory to take the series lead with two to play against the number one ODI team was not an entirely convincing one, but they will take it. For a change, it was a win set up by their middle-order that had been their Achilles heel for quite some time now. It had stood not only responsible for Australia’s defeat in T20Is here but also their barren run in ODIs after the World Cup. Hence, nonetheless, a welcome one.
Australia’s top-order, which was considered as the bedrock of their batting line-up, crumbled in the face of Mark Wood’s breezy pace bowling. In a slow wicket that produced raging turners, leggie Adil Rashid proved as unplayable. The visitors lost hope, teetering at 123 with half the side down. In the crease was the duo of Mitchell Marsh, who guided the Australians to a consolation T20I victory from a precarious position in Southampton a few days ago.
At the other end was Glenn Maxwell, whose counterattacking ability did not go in tandem with his temperament most often. Hence, Australia’s innings pretty much was unfolding like the 2019 World Cup semi-final. However, Marsh and Maxwell halted the English bowlers’ charge with their gritty and audacious knocks. Gritty is a word that best suited Marsh’s 100-ball 73 that held the innings together. Glenn Maxwell, who came at the fall of Alex Carey was the last recognized batsman.
The duo added 123 for the sixth wicket that played a significant role in Australia amassing 294 in their stipulated overs. Backing that up was Josh Hazlewood’s imperious opening spell that tied the English swashbuckling batsmen in the first 20 overs. He got well supported by Adam Zampa, who removed the likes of Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, and Jonny Bairstow, who threatened a resurgence alongside Sam Billings. But it’s not to say that the visitors could afford to relax. The top-order still has to bat diligently while their bowlers have to avoid leaking runs in the middle overs.
England’s bowlers did not do much wrong; however, their fifth bowler, who was Moeen Ali, proved as highly non-effective. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were terrific with the ball, so was Adil Rashid, keeping the Australian batsmen guessing. But Chris Woakes does have scope for improvement, who notably conceded a six off the last ball of the innings.
In particular, English batsmen must learn to bat on wickets that aren’t genuinely flat as strike rotation was not present with the likes of Jason Roy and Joe Root when the ball was nipping around. The silver lining amid the loss was Sam Billings, whose exquisite and full of innovative hundred took the match deep enough to limit the deficit to 19 runs after being 57-4 at one stage. It does exhibit the hosts’ never-ending prowess with the bat. But for sure, one would back this English side to bounce back and do it well from any position and Australians will be aware of the same.
Despite the defeat, the hosts are likely to stick with the same side for the second game as well. England will want significant contributions from the other candidates in the batting line-up to level the series.
Probable XI: Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
With Steve Smith likely to sit out for the second ODI as well, Marcus Stoinis is expected to retain the number three spot. The rest of the batting line-up and bowling combinations will remain the same as well.
Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Marnus Labushchagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.
With very little time to prepare a pitch, the same deck would likely be used for the second game too. It is worth noting that the track will have slowed down further, making batting more difficult.
The weather on Sunday will remain sunny for the most part of the day, unlike on Friday when it was partly cloudy. There is also only a three per cent chance of precipitation.
Head to head:
Played – 150
Won by England – 62
Won by Australia – 83
Tied – 2
No result – 3
Stats that matter:
102 – Aaron Finch is still 102 runs short of 5000 in ODIs.
77 – Joe Root is still 77 runs shy of 6000 in ODIs.
After suffering a 19-run loss, the Englishmen will not ill-afford to sit back and plot their way to get back at the Australians. The prediction is for the hosts to level the series.