PREVIEW: In their final home match of 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.
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