Durham: England might still be recovering from the storm Aaron Finch created with his devastating knock. The 26-year-old from Victoria smashed 156 off just 63 balls, hitting more sixes (14) than fours (11) as Australia posted a mammoth 248 in 20 overs in the first Twenty20 international at The Rose Bowl on Thursday. If the pitch at Chester-le-Street, the venue for the second T20I, turns out to be another belter, it would be impossible for England to stop Finch repeating his marauding knock.
Thanks to Joe Root's 49-ball 90*, England came close to their target but they will want their top order to provide them a solid start, which they missed in the first game as they lost their first four wickets for just 42 runs. While Michael Lumb made 22 off 11 balls, the other batsmen - Alex Hales (8), Luke Wright (4) and Eoin Morgan (0) - all failed. Had it not been some lusty hitting from Root, Ravi Bopara (45 off 29) and Jos Buttler (27 off 17) at the end, defeat could easily have been bigger than 39 runs.
The lesser said about the bowlers' figures from both sides, the better it would be. With an economy of 8.50 and three wickets, Jade Dernbach was the most economical successful bowler from both the teams. While a majority of the England bowlers went over 11 an over, all of Australia's - except James Faulkner (9.75) - had economy rates of between 10 and 11. Why Dernbach went for a little less than the others was because he used his variations cleverly, which others missed terribly.
If the pitch at Chester-le-Street turns out to be another belter, it would be impossible for England to stop Finch repeating his marauding knock.
England's bowlers erred by bowling length balls to Finch and the right-hander didn't hesitate in smashing them over the ropes. Though he was expensive, Australia should be satisfied with Mitchell Johnson's performance on return to the XI. He, along with young Josh Hazlewood, took two wickets while Shane Watson added one after scoring a quick-fire 37 off 16. Pakistani refugee Legspinner Fawad Ahmed, who made his international debut for Australia on Thursday, had a poor outing as 43 runs were scored off his bowling.
Luke Wright was also seen bowling with a shortened run-up which not only affected his pace but also made it tough for him to bowl with a consistent line. Despite the bowlers going for many runs, it is hard to see both teams making many changes for Saturday's encounter.
If England's top order fires in Durham and Australia's middle order also gets a chance, than the crowd is assured to get entertained more on Saturday.
Probable playing XI:
England: 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Steven Finn, 10 Danny Briggs, 11 Jade Dernbach
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 James Faulkner, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Fawad Ahmed