England To Edge Out Aussies In Opener

England fell narrowly short of closing out a T20 series win over Pakistan last time out. The Green Army were able to clinch a five-run win over Eoin Morgan’s men, signing off their tour with one victory under their belt.

Mohammed Hafeez scored a brilliant 86 to leave England chasing another huge total of 191 to triumph. Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf were on point with the ball to deny the home side, despite a valiant effort from Moeen Ali.

Although, England will have been disappointed to get over the line – they were playing without several key players. They welcome back a large portion of those men into the fold to take on the number-one ranked side in the world. Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood are all included to bolster the ranks.

Australia arrive with the status of being the top side in the world in the 20-over format. Their last visit to England was a successful one, leaving with the Ashes after their 2-2 in the Test series.

The Aussies have won their last four T20 series on the bounce, beating India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. In their last experience of white-ball cricket in England, the Baggy Greens were crushed 5-0 in five ODIs.

They’re rearmed on this visit with Steve Smith and David Warner along with their pacemen Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. They will be eyeing the scalp of the Three Lions to build on their burgeoning 20-over reputation.

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Can England Strike Balance?

England were forced to chase down massive totals against Pakistan in their series. On the first occasion they eased over the line, while second time around they fell just short. It happens in T20 cricket where one decision can affect the outcome of a game.

Morgan’s dismissal for a run out on 10 changed the complex of the contest, despite a fine effort from Ali late on. England lacked the nous and experience of their captain in the final overs.

Sam Billings is in danger of slipping out of the side after his 26 runs came from 24 balls. Once Ben Stokes and Jason Roy return to the fold as well as Joe Root, there are not going to be many slots available.

Tom Banton has taken his chance with impressive scores of 71 and 45, and he will have a great opportunity to cement his place in the 20-over side with another string of strong performances against a quality pace attack.

Buttler’s presence will add vital experience to the lower order, which looked short of nous in the closing stages in the final match against Pakistan. Ali’s return to form was vital and should his bowling follow his batting, England will have their spinning all-rounder back to his best, which will be vital for next year’s World Cup in India.

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Australia Must Make Statement

Australia were the bookies’ favourites for the World T20 had it gone ahead on home soil this year. The pandemic halted their ambitious for triumphing in Australia, but they remain the number one side in the world.

The ICC rankings are questionable at times, and many will argue that both England and India are the stronger sides in the shortest format. Therefore, Aaron Finch and company have a point to prove against the Three Lions.

Finch has always thrived against England, smashing 156 against his side’s biggest rivals in 2013. In their last contest he made a fine innings of 84, and the Aussie skipper will be determined to lead a winning effort this time around.

The presence of Smith and Warner hands Finch experience at the top of the order alongside him, while Marnus Lasbuchagne impressed in a warm-up game by scoring a century. Australia have a talented batting unit at their disposal.

Cummins and Starc lead a potent pace attack, with both men operating at the peak of their powers. Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood will compete for the final seamer’s spot, although neither are proven operators in the format.

Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis provide balance and are also vying for one spot as the all-rounder. The selection of a spinner is also up for grabs with Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar available.

Conditions

Conditions at the Ageas Bowl are expected to be cloudy for the contest, which should not sway the result one way or the other.

Australia have been practicing at the ground ahead of the series and there have been a few high scores posted. If that holds true for the contest we should be on course for a thrilling series.

Prediction

It has been a long time since Australia have been in competitive action. England have played good cricket in the series against Pakistan with the bat, although their bowling needs fine tuning. The return of Buttler and Archer should be enough to see them over the line, although it will be a close contest.

England To Beat Australia 1st T20I – 1.75 Betway

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