Australia begin their limited-overs tour of England with a three-match T20I series. After their quarantine in a bio-secure bubble, Australia will face England in the first T20I on Friday in Southampton (Saturday 3am AEST). We preview the game along with our betting predictions below.
Australia have brought a large squad for this white-ball leg against England. That means that several players might not get a chance until at least the third T20I as coach Justin Langer indicated ahead of the series.
"We've had a pretty settled T20 side over the last 12 months or so and all we can ask for is that guys bang so hard they are putting pressure on the guys in there," Langer said. "So, whether Marnus plays this series or not, or certainly the first game on Friday night, time will tell. We haven't decided that yet. But he's certainly done, as has always been the way since coming into international cricket, everything he possibly could. He was hitting Pat Cummins, the world's best, over point for six."
Australia have some massive hitters in their team, including David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell. England have brought back Jos Buttler, who will likely move to the top of the order, possibly in place of Tom Banton.
Considering the quality of batsmen in both squads, several sportsbooks have a very surprising sixes market. Even though the quality of bowling has also been beefed up, with the return of Jofra Archer for England, and Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins for Australia, it’s still very likely that both teams will combine to hit more than eight sixes. Even with the large dimensions of the ground in Southampton, it won’t be big enough for some of these ball-strikers.
While Australia have played a few intra-squad warm-up matches in the last few days, they haven’t played much professional cricket since the suspended ODI series against New Zealand earlier in the year. That could heavily impact their reaction times to crucial moments in the game. As was the case with Pakistan, it’s possible that Australia will start finding their rhythm towards the end of the series.
England’s top-order has been bolstered with one of their best white-ball batsmen in Buttler. They bat deep and attack right from the outset. That’s their preferred modus operandi under captain Eoin Morgan. Australia might as well win this series with quality performances over the weekend, but it’s more likely that a well-oiled machine in England will take the first game against a slightly rusty Australia.
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