London: After thrashing West Indies, the high-spirited England side will now aim to continue their winning momentum against Australia in the five-match ODI series starting on Friday.
The traditional rivals will face off in the first ODI at Lord's and a confident England, who have recently trounced West Indies in the Test and ODI series, will now eye to maintain their winning streak. While on the other hand, Australia, with quite a few talented youngsters in their side, can pose a threat to the hosts.
Led by Alastair Cook, England start as favourites, but considering Australia’s resilience, things won’t be easy for the home team even in their own backyard.
Ian Bell and Cook come into the series with brilliant centuries against the West Indies. Moreover, Bell, who replaced Kevin Pietersen after his ODI retirement, will be a key player against the Australians. He scored 179 runs in two matches with an average of 89.50, which included a century and a fifty.
In the absence of Pietersen, players like Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jonathan Trott and Johny Bairstow provide a sense of solidarity to the English middle-order, but it’s nothing like the quality Pietersen used to bring with him, especially in the swinging England conditions.
The bowling department has been more consistent than England’s batting in the last couple of years. Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Tim Bresnan are in prime form and will be a force to reckon with for the Aussie batting line-up. Add on the world’s best offspinner Graeme Swann to the list and it wears an intimidating look.
Australia would start their campaign coming from two big wins in their practice matches against county sides Leicestershire and Essex. However, the No.1 ODI team has won only 13 of their last 25 one-day matches and the main concern for the Aussies would be their batting in the absence of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting. That means the likes of Peter Forrest, George Bailey and Steve Smith will have to make their opportunity count.
David Warner and Shane Watson as an opening pair can be deadly upfront with David Hussey, who has raised his stakes as a key limited-overs player for Australia with both bat and ball.
On the bowling front also, Australia have nothing to worry with some proven performers like Ben Hilfenaus, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and there are chances of a likely return of Mitchell Johnson.
England: 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 3 Ian Bell, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Jonathan Trott, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Johny Bairstow, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn
Australia: 1 Michael Clarke (capt), 2 Shane Watson, 3 David Warner, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Peter Forrest, 6 David Hussey, 7 Mathew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Ben Hilfenhaus, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 James Pattinson