Birmingham, June 7: Two-time defending champions they might be, but Australia are looking more vulnerable than ever as they brace up for their Champions Trophy Group A opener against confident Ashes rivals England here on Saturday (June 8).
Their patchy form aside, Aussies have a major worry to deal with as skipper Michael Clarke's long-standing back problem has flared up once again, ruling him out of tomorrow's match.
With their inspiration skipper missing, it will important for others to step up to the challenge. George Bailey will take charge as captain for the game.
England, on the other hand, would be looking to flourish in familiar conditions even though they endured an ODI series loss to a rather weak New Zealand just before the Champions Trophy.
But an overall assessment of their ODI stats would reveal that since 2010, England have won 23 and lost only 11 of the 37 matches they have played at home.
A look at the team sheets gives a fair idea of just why the hosts would be the favourites tomorrow.
Australia, a team well past its glory days, is struggling to cope with what has been a tormenting transitional phase.
The side's batting has looked brittle and this frailty was most recently exposed in the warm-up match against India last week when they were bowled out for just 65 runs while a chasing a steep 309.
Given the situation, it would be absolutely vital for Australia that Clarke returns to full fitness for next match against New Zealand.
The team would also be looking at imposing all-rounder Shane Watson to do quite a lot of scoring after a fine IPL stint with the Rajasthan Royals.
Australia: George Bailey (captain), Shane Watson, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Glenn Maxwell, Michael Clarke.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, James Tredwell, Steven Finn, Chris Woakes, James Anderson, Graeme Swann.
Match starts at 3PM IST