Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Saturday 10 February, 19:20 local time; 08:20 GMT
In their final home match of this Trans-Tasman triangular Twenty20 International series, against England in Melbourne, Australia will look to more or less seal their place in the final.
They have so far coasted to victories in their first two matches, first seeing off New Zealand by seven wickets on the DLS method in Sydney and following it up with a five-wicket triumph over England in Hobart. That they have done all this without a number of first-team regulars only adds to their aura.
Glenn Maxwell has symbolised it. His unbeaten 24-ball 40 helped Australia recover from 10/2 in a small chase of 95 in the first game, but it was his all-round show against England that really signalled his status in this relatively inexperienced side. He returned 3/10, seeing off Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan and David Willey, before hammering an unbeaten 103 off just 58 balls – the sort of knock that comes about when Maxwell is at his best.
England are up against an in-form side showing no obvious signs of weakness. David Warner, standing in as captain, has struggled for form, but the likes of Maxwell, Chris Lynn and Marcus Stoinis add a certain violence to the batting, while the likes of Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar form a bowling attack that has so far restricted New Zealand and England to 117/9 and 155/5 respectively.
England came into the tri-series on the back of their comprehensive 4-1 win over Australia in the One-Day International series, but some of that momentum was drained after their loss in Hobart. England are themselves playing with a somewhat weakened outfit – Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes are all missing – but there is still enough quality within the squad. Malan’s 36-ball 50 in Hobart was the latest in what has been a good couple of months for the middle-order batsman, while David Willey’s return of 3/28 coupled with his big-hitting abilities make him a big threat.
David Warner (Australia): The 31-year-old opener has impressed standing in as captain, but his form in the limited-overs circuit is concerning. He managed scores of 2, 35, 8, 13 and 15 in the ODI series against England, and that’s leaked on to to the tri-series as well, Warner managing just ten runs over the two games so far. Australia have done well enough without his explosive starts so far, but there is no denying they are a better side when he is firing on all cylinders. England will hope to deny him one more time.
Jason Roy (England): When England and Australia last met in Melbourne, Roy scored a 151-ball 180 that helped his side topple Australia’s 305-run target in the first ODI. Thereafter, he has managed just one real score of note – 49 in Perth – in five outings. Against an Australian attack that is buzzing, England could very well do with another Roy special. Perhaps the return to Melbourne could spark something in him.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch typically has decent bounce, and it is expected to have plenty of runs in it. Forecast suggests scattered showers on Saturday, though, and whether that will swing this clash the way of the bowlers remains to be seen.
Australia: David Warner (capt), Aaron Finch (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.