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ICC T20 World Cup: Chance for England, Australia to raise the stakes ahead of the Ashes

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Dubai, Oct 30 (IANS) One of the biggest cricketing rivalries in the world would be showcased when the Aaron Finch-led Australia take on former T20 World champions England in the ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game later on Saturday, with the team winning the match securing the bragging rights going into the Ashes series.

England are scheduled to begin their Ashes tour next month with the opening Test at The Gabba from December 8, and this could be a great opportunity for the Eoin Morgan-led side to raise the morale of the side, though Joe Root would lead the touring party to Australia early next month.

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Group 1 leaders England are the top-ranked side at the tournament and have barely broken a sweat so far in their comfortable wins over West Indies and Bangladesh so far. But Australia have the wherewithal to trouble the current table-toppers, and have themselves picked up two wins from two at the tournament, seeing off South Africa and Sri Lanka.

In many ways this fixture is a clash of styles, with England looking to bat aggressively right through their top seven, with Australia typically playing a slightly more conservative style with the bat overall. With the ball it’s almost a Test cricket pace attack on show from Australia, with the quality of the pacers intended to restrict teams with variations.

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A defeat for either side would force them to fight for a second qualification place, while a win would put either side in a great position to qualify.

England’s only selection dilemma surrounds the fitness of pace bowler Mark Wood. If Wood is cleared to play, England will likely need to drop one of Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes or Chris Jordan to get him into the side.

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For Australia, their top-three have been scratchy in this format, but with David Warner finally striking a half-century against Sri Lanka, the Aaron Finch-led side would go into the game with renewed confidence. If Warner and Finch fire again, the team would have the look of match-winners.

The powerplay success of England’s spin-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali has played a major part in their two wins in the tournament. But Australia’s top order looks well-suited on paper to taking on Moeen, and if he doesn’t get through overs early on it makes things tricky for Eoin Morgan later in the innings. With the bat, Moeen could play a big role in targeting Adam Zampa.

“Australia are a very strong side. Coming into the tournament, they would probably be considered joint-second favourites, along with us. They’re a side that we know pretty well – we’ve played against them a lot over a number of years, so looking forward to a really good game,” said Morgan.

For Australia, Adam Zampa could play the same role as Moeen for England and pace bowler Pat Cummins has said that having a premier spinner like him in the side is a huge plus. “Adam is huge for us. I think he’s one of the premier spin bowlers in the world in white-ball cricket. He’s been fantastic for us for a long time.

“Just knowing in this format batters can get away, there can be a big start in the first six overs, but having especially a wrist-spinner is just hugely beneficial for us. He can take those couple of wickets, keep it tight, and then we can attack from the other end. He showed how good he is (against Sri Lanka).”

Probable England XI: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan (captain), Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Tymal Mills.

Probable Australia XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (captain), Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.

–IANS

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