Finn's form will please Eoin Morgan, but he'll want other pacers to pull their weight to keep visiting side at bay
For a long time, irrespective of its Test form, England has started a limited-overs contest against Australia as the underdog. Although Eoin Morgan's side has some way to go before changing that perception, a win at Old Trafford should come as temporary relief as it seeks to stay alive in the series going into the fourth One-Day International at Headingley in Leeds on Friday (September 11).
England's 93-run win on Tuesday -- only its first against Australia in 12 ODIs -- was fashioned by James Taylor, who made an industrious century to lay the platform before Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, the spin twins, came into their own on a dry surface. Irrespective of whether it is greeted by a similar surface, England will be buoyed by the manner in which it overcame tough passages to eventually stroll home.
With six half-centuries in his last eight innings, Morgan has led from the front, while there has been a marked improvement in the approach of Jason Roy.
The form of the pace bowling group, however, remains a worry, with England conceding two 300 plus scores. Though teams nowadays back themselves to chase such totals down, the ease with which Australia have negotiated it means the pacers will have their task cut out. Chris Woakes, who went wicketless in the first three games, has been ruled out of the final two matches with a right thigh injury. Keeping that in mind, Steven Finn's efforts with the new ball on Tuesday would come as a relief for Morgan and Trevor Bayliss, the coach.
Australia have had to tinker with its squad in the wake of injuries to several members of its touring party, who have been on the road for a while now. David Warner's thumb injury paved the way for Aaron Finch's inclusion, and the Victorian responded with a half-century.
Joe Burns, the other opener, has also shown signs that indicate he's ready to step up and become a regular member. The form he has carried from his stint with Australia A in India has been there for everyone to see, while Matthew Wade's contributions in the middle can't be understated either.
Adding plenty of teeth to the middle order is George Bailey, the former captain, who has looked at ease playing under Smith, while Glenn Maxwell and the in-form Mitchell Marsh will continue to be dangerous propositions on most days.
Darren Lehmann, the coach, will be pleased that they have all contributed at different stages. With just one power-packed performance away from taking the series, he won't be overly concerned with the defeat in the previous ODI.
Ashton Agar, the left-arm spinner who made a smashing Test debut with the bat two years ago, held his own with the ball, but Australia will need Mitchell Starc to rediscover his form and spearhead a young bowling group.
How England, with its new-found confidence, pull its weight against the hungry world champion side, wanting to finish its long summer on a high after the Ashes disappointment, will form the crux of the contest.
England: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Australia: Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Steve Smith (capt), Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), John Hastings, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Agar, George Bailey, Joe Burns, James Pattinson.