“It’s always a great battle (against England). We are looking forward to it. They have probably been the form side in white-ball cricket for a long time. We love playing them and it will be an entertaining game.” Well, it’s time for England v Australia and Aaron Finch is all hyped up to take on Eoin Morgan and Co. The two are the only unbeaten sides in Group 1 and will battle for supremacy in Match 26 of the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai on Saturday (October 30).
Australia haven’t been as dominating as England, but at the end of the day, Finch’s men have got the two Ws in front of their name. They weren’t at their best against South Africa but pulled off a convincing win against Sri Lanka. Their bowling delivered once again, while David Warner and Finch too got back amongst runs in authoritative fashion. Meanwhile, England’s formidable batting unit hasn’t been tested yet because their bowlers have done the majority of the work in their first two encounters against West Indies and Bangladesh. England are an intimidating side in white-ball cricket, but you don’t generally bet against Australia in showpiece events.
Things starting to fall into place for Australia
Australia started their campaign with a five-wicket win against South Africa but there were some question marks over their batting unit, especially the top-order. Warner and Finch weren’t amongst runs as Australia were constantly struggling to get solid starts. Amongst all the 12 teams in the World Cup, the Australian opening pair had the worst average and strike rate in 2021 before the start of the tournament. Finch was struggling with his knee injury, while Warner had only played eight T20s in 2021, coming into this competition.
The Australian team management, however, were more worried about Warner but the left-handed opener returned back to his absolute best against Sri Lanka. The dasher smoked 65 off 42 deliveries and added 70 runs in 6.5 overs with his opening partner Finch to make a mockery of Sri Lanka’s 155-run target. Alongside scoring at 156.3 in the powerplay, the southpaw motored along at 153.9 during the middle-overs. That is what makes him a dangerous opener at his best - the ability to hit gaps when the field is spread. Warner’s return to his authoritative best has now made Australia a serious contender.
Steve Smith too played his part but the biggest reason why Australia have won both their matches is because of their bowling attack. Josh Hazlewood has become a different beast altogether in the shortest format of the game, largely because of his stint with Chennai Super Kings, while Mitchell Starc has always been a world-class white-ball fast bowler. Finch is using him more in the middle and death overs and the left-arm paceman is doing the job for his team. It was him and Adam Zampa who turned the game in Australia’s favour after Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka laid a superb platform for Sri Lanka. But a more rousing impact was caused by Zampa. The legspinner is criminally underrated and has been Australia’s best bowler so far in this mega event.
England’s versatile bowling unit
Chris Woakes is a phenomenal new-ball bowler, while Chris Jordan and left-arm paceman Tymal Mills have good variations and can bowl at the death. Meanwhile, Adil Rashid is one of the best spinners in white-ball cricket. On top of that, England also have offspinner Moeen Ali and quick-arm legspinner Liam Livingstone who can be used depending on the match-ups. And, Morgan has used all of them brilliantly so far in this tournament. They first bundled out West Indies for mere 55 in their first game and then restricted Bangladesh to just 124/9, making things extremely easier for their batters.
In the first two encounters, England picked up seven wickets in the powerplay and never allowed West Indies and Bangladesh to get off the hook. Moeen and Woakes have done most of the damage in the first six overs and it will be interesting to see how Warner and Finch tackle them. England were termed as the red-hot favourites because of their formidable batting line-up but it’s their bowlers who have stolen all the glory so far. Openers Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are in pretty good form but the same can’t be said about England’s middle-order. The likes of Morgan, Dawid Malan and Livingstone can be vulnerable in these conditions and that’s an area Australia can expose on Saturday.
England - Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (c), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Tymal Mills.
Australia - David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
(All stats till October 28, 2021)