England face Australia on Tuesday in one of the most eagerly anticipated matches at the World Cup so far.
Hosts England have lost twice, against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while Australia are riding high after five wins out of six, with their only defeat coming against India. The form guide, quite incredibly (given the events of the past 12 months or more, favours Autstralia going into this one.
Ahead of the Ashes series after the World Cup, this is the big one that both teams would dearly like to win with the points table shaping up fascinatingly because of England’s defeat to Sri Lanka.
And in addition to the rich history of the rivalry, David Warner and Steve Smith’s returns have added spice to the build-up. The duo have found themselves booed by some fans in England after returning to international cricket following year-long bans for ball-tampering. They could be in for a stern treatment from the home fans at the Lord’s.
England have games coming up against Australia, India and New Zealand; and there is a sense that they are under pressure after two unexpected defeats and could potentially be in a scenario where they lose all three of those matches.
It’s fair to say this match promises to be a blockbuster.
Head to head
England v Australia at World Cup
| Edition||Result||Toss||Opted to||Ground|
|1975||England lost by 4 wickets||Australia||Bat||Leeds|
|1979||England won by 6 wickets||England||Bowl||Lord's|
|1987||England lost by 7 runs||Australia|| Bowl||Kolkata|
|1992||England won by 8 wickets||Australia|| Bowl||Sydney|
|2003||England lost by 2 wickets||England||Bat||Port Elizabeth|
|2007||England lost by 7 wickets||England||Bat||North Sound|
|2015||England lost by 111 runs||England||Bowl||Melbourne|
England vs Australia H2H details
|Matches played||England won||Australia won|
|Overall||147 (NR: 3, Tied 2)||61||81|
|ICC events (World Cup and Champions Trophy)||12||5||7|
Key battles in the match at Lord’s:
Warner-Finch v Archer: Top-order battle
Jofra Archer has given England’s attack a new dimension with his raw pace, taking 15 wickets so far to top the charts at the World Cup alongside Australia’s Mitchell Starc and Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir.
The Barbados-born bowler has linked up well with Chris Woakes and Mark Wood to give Eoin Morgan’s side impressive firepower and the ability to decapitate the top order.
On the other side, Aaron Finch and David Warner have combined for 447 runs in six innings, continuing a trend that sees Australia average 53.81 for the first wicket in ODIs since 2015, the highest in the world.
Warner is right back at the top of the international game after returning from a year-long ban for ball-tampering with something to prove.
He scored a relatively sedate 89 not out off 114 balls in Australia’s first match against Afghanistan and has since stepped on the gas, reaching a century against Pakistan and then smashing 166 off 147 balls against Bangladesh.
Finch has also been in sublime form and given the fact that most matches have been won or lost by performance of openers in the tournament, this battle could be the most crucial in deciding the outcome.
Buttler and Maxwell: Tussle of finishers
England’s Jos Buttler is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket, with the ability to change the course of matches in the blink of an eye.
Buttler scored a century in a losing cause against Pakistan earlier in the tournament, but did not get many overs against Afghanistan and was dismissed cheaply against Sri Lanka.
It is the Lancashire batsman’s ability to take the game away from opponents towards the end of matches that is so impressive.
Buttler’s strike rate of more than 120 runs per 100 balls is bettered by Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, who boasts a strike rate of 124-plus.
Maxwell has shown glimpses of his capabilities at the tournament in England and Wales.
He smashed 46 in 25 balls against Sri Lanka and then produced an even more eye-catching knock against Bangladesh.
Coming in the 45th over, he flayed the attack for 32 off 10 balls – before he was run out he was in sight of breaking the record for the fastest one-day international fifty held by South Africa’s AB de Villiers (16 balls).
But Maxwell’s batting position has been a source of concern for Australia, given the middle order has not exactly managed to back-up the performances of the top order.
Rashid and Zampa: Who’ll have bigger impact?
So far at the World Cup it has been the quicker bowlers who have made the bigger impact in seam-friendly conditions, with South Africa’s Imran Tahir leading the way for the spinners, with 10 wickets.
England’s Adil Rashid had a slow start to his World Cup campaign but has taken five wickets in his last two matches and offers a wicket-taking threat as well as the ability to contain.
The leg-spinner has taken 136 wickets in one-day internationals since the start of 2015 – the second-highest tally behind New Zealand paceman Trent Boult.
Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa has only played four games and has disappointing tournament figures of 5-236.
Former Australia captain Allan Border has suggested off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who has not yet played at the World Cup, could add attacking threat but Zampa will be keen to prove his worth on the biggest stage.
This battle becomes especially crucial given the performances of Imran Tahir and Shabab Khan in the match between Pakistan and South Africa, in what was the curtain-raiser at the Lord’s for the tournament.
Who’s saying what
“I think that over the World Cup history, Australia have had a very good history of peaking at the right time. Over a lot of that history Australia have played their best cricket under the greatest pressure. And that’s a good lesson for everyone, the fact that we’ve got six guys in our squad who were part of the 2015 World Cup win is really valuable.
“We’re going in with a lot of confidence no doubt, we’ve been playing some really good cricket. But it’s about the team that holds their nerve the longest and under the highest pressure that will succeed.”— Australia captain Aaron Finch
I think fans and supporters up and down the country will have different reactions, as they will around the world. So we’ll see. Supporters pay a lot of money, they do. And sport is beautiful in many ways, because it attracts people from far and wide. And you often see crowds offering support to both sets of players in the grounds.
“You don’t know how sports fans will react. Just because two guys have been punished, served their punishment and returned to play, it doesn’t mean they will be accepted back into the cricket community straight away. It will take time.”— England captain Eoin Morgan
Match starts at 3 pm IST
(With AFP inputs)