Teams eye series win at Old Trafford - Fifth ODI preview
The Royal London One Day series is set up for a cracking finale: two all with one to play.
After England’s defeat at Lord’s, which put Australia 2-0 up in the series, few would have given Eoin Morgan’s side a chance of going in to the deciding match at Old Trafford all square, such was the dominance of the visitors’ performances.
Since then, England have themselves produced two commanding displays, one at Old Trafford where they won a good toss giving them the best of conditions and one at Headingley in their best performance of the series, chasing down 300 comfortably.
England find themselves in a similar situation to that of the New Zealand ODI series earlier in the summer where the final game was a winner takes all scenario.
They triumphed in that encounter thanks to a stunning innings by Jonny Bairstow and will hope to do the same on Sunday when they return to Old Trafford after playing the third game of the series there on Tuesday.
Their chances are boosted by two factors: the pitch at Old Trafford spun in Tuesday’s game - Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali took five wickets between them - and England have a clear advantage in the spin department; secondly, Australia have lost the momentum they had in the early part of the series.
Steven Smith and the Australian selectors have some decisions to make.
The omission of left arm spinner Aston Agar at Headingley proved to be ill-judged and he will almost certainly return to the side at Old Trafford. Mitchell Starc was rested in Leeds and will also come back in to the side.
Marcus Stonis had a quiet ODI debut in Leeds and will make way but it is a close call to see which of John Hastings or James Pattinson is left out.
Each went at more than eight an over in the fourth ODI but perhaps Hastings’ 34 from 26 balls with the bat will help his cause.
David Willey’s introduction to the England side at Headingley – his home ground next season after agreeing a move to Yorkshire from Northamptonshire – proved immediate dividends as he took the first three Australian wickets to fall.
His ability to swing the new ball, particularly in English conditions, was missed in the first three games of the series.
He continued Joe Burns’ poor run of form, bowling him for 2, and also removed Aaron Finch and Smith.
Once again it was Australia’s middle order who powered them to a total and in Glenn Maxwell, Australia have an x-factor cricketer at the top of his game.
Maxwell made 85 from 64 balls – as well as taking two of the best catches you will ever see – and took 1-54 from ten overs proving what a truly all-round cricketer he is.
It is likely he will be in Australia’s Test side for their upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
England bowled well although Morgan said he was disappointed that they couldn’t capitalise on having the Australians at 30-3.
Steven Finn was rested and will come back in to contention for the final game, probably in place of Mark Wood who’s figures of 0-65 from nine overs were disappointing.
Apart from that change, England will stick with the same line up. The batting looks in good order with only Alex Hales struggling badly for form.
The Headingley game was just the third time in 27 previous attempts that England have chased down 300 or more in an ODI and it was an innings based on solid contributions all down the order and an exceptional innings from the captain.
The month rest that Morgan had in August looks to have done him the world of good and his form in all one-day cricket for England this summer has been sensational.
He has made scores of 38, 85, 62 and 92 in the series so far, and scored 74 in the T20 game for good measure. He is one of the world’s premier batsman in one-day cricket.
There was a moment in the fourth game that perfectly illustrated England’s change of attitude to one-day cricket. When Bairstow was dismissed, England needed 39 from 7.2 overs.
In times past they may have lost from there or at the very least made it difficult; instead, Liam Plunkett came out, given obvious license, hit his first ball for four and made 17 from ten balls. Game over.
It was a mind-set, perhaps a decision from Trevor Bayliss the coach or Morgan himself, which took the aggressive option, saw the situation and looked for the positive solution rather than the negative one. It worked and they won.
The weather is set fair for Manchester on Sunday and once again the pitch should be good to bat on but take some turn.
It is a day game unlike Tuesday’s day-nighter so conditions shouldn’t change as drastically as they did then, when there was appreciably more spin in the second innings.
The toss is vital. Setting a score and defending it will be the recipe for success and England in particular will hope to do similar as in the first game in Manchester where Rashid and Ali strangled the life out of the Australian middle order as the rate went up.
It will be England’s 19th international of the summer and a win would give them a series record reading: won five and drawn one. That’s not something many people would have predicted back in May.
Australia will not be lacking for motivation; they will not want to head back home having not won a series in England. They will need to rouse themselves one last time.
A grand final to finish off a grand international season then.
England are favourites to take the game and the series. Momentum is behind them and on a surface that will turn, Rashid and Ali are their trump cards.
England: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, James Taylor, Eoin Morgan (captain), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Steven Finn
Australia: Aaron Finch, Joe Burns, Steven Smith (captain), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, John Hastings
© Cricket World 2015