England will look to complete a clean sweep over Ashes rivals Australia when they lock horns with Aaron Finch-led tourists in the final Twenty20 International of the three-match series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Tuesday.
If the first game turned out to be a nail-bitter where England pulled off a jailbreak thanks to a middle-order meltdown by Australia, the second game proved to be a one-sided affair with the home side flexing their muscles and proving just why they are the side to beat in white-ball cricket in the modern era.
The win was set-up by the pace bowling duo of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, who rocked the Aussie top-order with precocious pace and hostility. Australia were reduced to 3-39 in the powerplay and even though they recovered to post 7-157 in 20 overs, the target was never going to be enough against the likes of Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan.
Buttler scored a brilliant unbeaten 77 while Malan continued with his imperious form, stroking a fluent 32-ball 42, to bat Australia out of the game.
Can Australia fight back or will England take the series 3-0?
Australia will be ruing the fact that they bottled the first game after having asserted themselves into a match-winning position. And, that has primarily been the difference between the two sides in the past two games. While England have been calm under pressure, Australia haven’t displayed the same, which is also a fair reflection of where both sides stand currently in white-ball cricket.
Australia’s over-dependence on their top-3- David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith- was well and truly visible in this series. While in the first game, the middle-order wasn’t able to finish the game off after such a great start, in the second match, even though the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell chipped in with brisk cameos, they could not convert those starts into 50-plus score.
Australia will also be worried about the form of wicket-keeper Alex Carey and leg-spinner Adam Zampa. Both Carey and Zampa have had forgettable outings in the last two games and the Justin Langer-led management will be hoping for the duo to come good in the series finale. Australia may have lost the series but their No.1 ranking is pretty much at stake, heading into the 3rd T20I. Can they retain their numero-uno spot?
England vs Australia 2020, 3rd T20I, Southampton: Match Prediction
With the series already gone and their pride at stake, expect the Aussies to come back hard in the final T20I. The fact that Jos Buttler will not be available for the third T20I will certainly help. Backing Aaron Finch’s men to pull one back.