Australia’s previous ODI series in India showcased the explosive hitting of James Faulkner, who is arguably now their most important player in this format. In Mohali, he hit 64 off 29 balls to carry his side home alongside Adam Voges, and in Bangalore he hit 116 off 73 in a lost cause. Overall, he averaged 115 from his four innings. Here in Brisbane, he was joined by last man Clint McKay with the score on 244 and 67 runs needed from six overs, and once more he saw his side home, climbing into Ben Stokes and Tim Bresnan. It’s almost worrying to think that Australia could have such a huge hitter at number nine in the order.
Eoin Morgan stormed into the England side with a series of explosive innings and innovative shots, no more so than his 67 off 34 balls in the Champions Trophy against South Africa in 2009. He suffered from a dip in form, going one year and 17 innings without a 50, but a match-winning 124* against the country of his birth Ireland last September has begun a run which has seen him hit two 100s and three 50s from seven innings, six of them coming against Australia. Morgan has struggled with sides bowling wide outside of stump against him, but he hit towering sixes over extra cover and also swung deep into the leg side here. The Middlesex man had a huge stroke of luck when he had just a single to his name; caught on one off the bowling of Michael Clarke, Morgan (correctly) queried whether there were too many fielders outside the 30 yard circle. At the end of that over, England were 85-3. It offered fleeting hope that England might be having a change of luck.
One clear sign of a struggling side is when catches start going down in the outfield, but England seemed to have found a new technique to overcome their problems – catch one-handed. It started in the second over when Gary Ballance caught out Aaron Finch at mid-on off Chris Jordan, and then Jordan himself took a spectacular return catch after a lusty blow from David Warner, prompting cries of astonishment from Nasser Hussain in the Sky Sports commentary box.
Joe Root has an ODI batting average of 35 but his place in the side can only be because of his bowling despite taking his wickets at over 64 runs apiece. Root has had a dreadful time in Australia and after scoring just three from 23 balls in Melbourne, he followed that up with a scratchy two from eight balls in Brisbane. Michael Carberry would be a natural replacement, but with only four front-line bowlers in their line-up and no spinner, England are reliant on the 23-year-old and Ravi Bopara to fill at least ten overs. On that front the Yorkshireman has done better, with combined figures of 11 overs, three wickets for 57. But England have to make a decision over the balance of their side and whether Root on this form can fill the important number three spot.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
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