Southampton: The NatWest ODI series looked like heading towards a dull ending after two matches got washed out, but England's win in the fourth one-dayer on Saturday has given it a twist. The series is now evenly poised at 1-1 and the fifth and final match here will decide its fate.
After getting thumped in the Ashes series, Australia would not like to return empty-handed. In the fourth ODI, Australia had a good chance of defending their low total of 227 after Clint McKay's hat-trick.
Australia got off to a bad start after put in to bat except for the knock of 87 by George Bailey. The chase should have been easy, but McKay took the hat-trick by removing Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root to leave England reeling at 8 for 3, but the England middle and lower order held on to take the series into a decider. Michael Carberry and Eoin Morgan's half-centuries revived England from the early jolts and built the platform for Jos Buttler to seal the win by three wickets.
The series is evenly poised at 1-1 and the fifth and final match at Southampton will decide whether Australia return home with something or nothing.
For both the teams, their top-order batting is a concern and they need to iron out the flaws for the decider.
Aaron Finch and Shane Watson are yet to fire, and for Australia it's of utmost importance that the duo bounces back to form in order to redeem the team's Ashes loss. England are also in the same boat, but by choice. They have rested several of their experienced players, including Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, and those in the team, especially veterans Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, are struggling for form.
On the bowling front, England have an edge with Boyd Rankin having adapted well to the international scene and James Tredwell taking a fondness to the limited-overs format.
For Australia, they are seriously missing a quality spinner, but their medium-pacers have so far made up for it, particularly Mitchell Johnson, who has shown promising signs of returning to top form since his return to the national fold.
Australia also have injury issues to deal with ahead of the crucial tie. Shaun Marsh has been already ruled out after hurting his hamstring in the fourth one-dayer, with captain Clarke also doubtful for the match after suffering a recurrence of his chronic back problem.
The Aussies have already planned to recall Phil Hughes in place of Marsh and if Clarke is unavailable, allrounder Glen Maxwell could be the replacement.
Australia: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Phil Hughes, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt)/Glen Maxwell, 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Mathew Wade, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnjson, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 11 Clint McKay
England: 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler, 8 Ben Stokes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Steven Finn