Australia look for winning end to home season | Cricket








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Big Picture

A curiosity of the Twenty20 triangular series spread across two countries is that the Melbourne match will mark the end of the international season in Australia, before the caravan moves to New Zealand for the remainder of the tournament. Having won their opening two matches, the Australian side led by David Warner has the chance to seal a place in the tournament final across the Tasman Sea by making it a hat-trick of wins over an England team irritated by their failure to make the most of a commanding start with the bat on Wednesday.

While the fortunes of Billy Stanlake oscillated wildly between Sydney and Hobart, Australia’s more consistent themes have been set by the Perth Scorchers pair of AJ Tye and Ashton Agar during the middle overs, and by Glenn Maxwell with the bat. Warner and Chris Lynn are two members of the top six who will hope for more productive evenings in Melbourne, the stand-in captain in particular needing to find runs to back up what has been an impressive captaincy display so far, while Steven Smith prepares to fly to South Africa for the four-Test series in March.

England have faced familiar questions about their now customary aggression following the Bellerive defeat, but under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan they are resolved to keep attacking with both bat and ball. A win would put England in good shape to qualify for the tournament final provided they can find a way past New Zealand, although a loss would make it a particularly glum trip across for the tournament’s conclusion with very little margin for error.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia WWWLW
England LLWLW

In the spotlight

After a summer of much discussion about his future, Glenn Maxwell is finally beginning to play the consistent, match-winning role that both he and the Australian team are looking for. His innings in Sydney and Hobart helped guide the Australians home to comfortable victories, while he has also been able to have an impact with the ball. T20 is a fickle beast, of course, and Maxwell will be eager to continue to have an impact on his home ground. England, by contrast, will be hoping for the sort of decision-making error that has frustrated Maxwell and his team many times in the past.

Having belted an outstanding 180 on his last visit to the MCG, Jason Roy has not enjoyed quite the same influence in subsequent matches of the ODI series and was fooled by a Kane Richardson slower ball at the Bellerive Oval. They key to Roy’s success in the earlier Melbourne ODI was a clear mind and confidence in his teammates, allowing him to attack with unbridled fury and security about his role in the side. Further low scores may serve to cloud this clarity, even in the game’s most explosive format.




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Team news

Australia played Travis Head in place of Adam Zampa in Hobart to lengthen their batting order, and this again seems the most likely selection permutation for a team that has now won three T20 matches in a row. Aaron Finch is still to make his return from a hamstring strain, while the NSW left-armer Ben Dwarshuis is the other member of the squad.

Australia (possible): 1 David Warner (capt), 2 D’Arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Andrew Tye, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Billy Stanlake

England will consider recalling Liam Dawson’s spin after Adil Rashid proved a difficult proposition for the Australians at Bellerive Oval.

England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Sam Billings, 7 David Willey, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Chris Jordan, 11 Mark Wood

Pitch and conditions

Melbourne’s T20 pitches this summer have generally been friendly to batsmen though seam and spin bowlers can benefit from the occasional bit of variable pace and the catching opportunities afforded by the ground’s vast boundaries. The forecast is warm, with scattered showers across the day to disappear by game time.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia have won both their previous T20 encounters with England at the MCG, by four runs in 2011 and a more comfortable eight wickets in 2014.
  • Glenn Maxwell needs three runs to go past Cameron White and become Australia’s fourth highest run-scorer in T20Is, behind David Warner, Shane Watson and Aaron Finch.

Quotes

“I would like to think it’s a better team with me in it. The last couple of years I’ve hardly put a foot wrong in Twenty20 internationals. I was definitely disappointed not to play but the squad mentality thing is pretty important.”
Adam Zampa is hopeful of a recall in Melbourne

“We do play a positive brand of cricket, an aggressive brand of cricket, and we’ll try to take it to the opposition where possible. These things do happen but I think over a period of time we’ll have more success than failure.”
Chris Jordan does not think England will change their approach after the Hobart loss

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig


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