Australia-England tie a 'cracker' in the offing

Published: Friday, October 20, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Jaipur:Having lost their opening matches, both Australia and England will go blazing all guns tomorrow not just to seek a morale booster ahead of next month's battle for the urn but more so to stay in the Champions Trophy when the arch-rivals face each other for the first time after last year's epic Ashes series at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here.

With the Indians getting better of the Englishmen here on Sunday and the West Indian mavericks surprising the World Champions in Mumbai on Wednesday, a defeat in the crucial Group A tie on the festival of lights could effectively put either of the team's campaign in the multi-nation tournament to a premature end.

Among the bad and the worse, England seem to have an advantage as atleast their pace-attack looked in its elements in the match against India. Even as Andrew Flintoff did not bowl, the trio of James Anderson, Steve Harmison and Sajid Mahmood gave jitters to the famed Indian batting line-up defending a meagre 125-run target.

Having already played a match on it, England will also be better acquainted with the bounce of the surface.

On the other hand, it could be quite a task to choose as to what went wrong for the Aussies on Wednesday -- the batting or the bowling.

In both the departments, the World Champions squandered advantageous position by not tightening the noose on the Islanders.

Letting Brian Lara's men escape to 234 from a precarious 63 for four and then, while chasing, collapsing inexplicably from 205 for five to end up 10 runs short clearly indicated that their now-stuff-of-the-legends killing instinct seemed missing.

Poor fielding, not normally associated with the Aussies, did not help them either.

The thumb rule, however, is to count the Aussies out but at your own peril. Adam Gilchrist looked in an ominous form and Michael Clarke dependable as ever and if England's batting display against India was anything to go by the Australian attack is still formidable enough to put it to test.

Clearly not amused by his side's performance, Ricky Ponting has already asked his team to get their acts together if they are to win.

''We have got to improve every aspect of our game. I dropped a catch, we bowled too many four-balls and lost too many wickets at the start of the innings. If you put all that together, we are not going to win a game of one-day cricket,'' the skipper said after the previous match. Ponting also said the game was more than a pre-cursor to test each other's strenghth before the Ashes series beginning on November 23.

''There is a vast change of players between ODIs and Test cricket,'' he said.

''It is the first time Australia and England are meeting since the last Ashes battle.

''Now, with a lot riding on the game as far as this tournament is concerned I'm sure it will be another good game of cricket, hopefully one that we come out on top,'' he added.

Paul Collingwood, meanwhile, echoed the popular English sentiment and underlined the importance of the tie as marker-laying for the Test series as well.

''The Twenty20 match before last year's Ashes where we defeated Australia gave us the confident and we went on to win the series. We would be looking to do a repeat of that in Jaipur,'' he said.

With an India-Pakistan tie uncertain in the tournament, the two teams would be expected to show some sparks and pyrotechincs on the field to ensure a perfect Diwali bash for the spectators.


Australia: Ricky Ponting (Capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Damien Martyn, Dan Cullen, Glenn McGrath, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Nathan Bracken, Shane Watson, Simon Katich and Mitchell Johnson.

England: Andrew Flintoff (Capt), Andrew Strauss, Chris Read (wk), Edmund Joyce, Ian Bell, Jamie Dalrymple, James Anderson, Jonathan Lewis, Kevin Pietersen, Michael Yardy, Paul Collingwood, Rikki Clarke, Stephen Harmison and Sajid Mahmood.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor, Billy Bowden, Third Umpire: Daryl Harper and Fourth Umpire: Simon Taufel

Match referee: Jeff Crowe


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