Australia and England battle for trophy
Sunday, February 1, WACA
Start time 11.20am (0320 GMT)
The abbreviated version of Australia's one-day tri-series wraps up at the abbreviated WACA Ground on Sunday. India's tour has ended without a victory of any sort, and they must now work out how to lift themselves for the World Cup in these same conditions. Australia and England, meanwhile, will play for a minor trophy by comparison, but the winner will also take away a significant confidence boost given that these same two teams begin their World Cup campaigns against each other at the MCG on February 14.
Australia took a bonus point from their first meeting with England in this series, but the second match was a much closer affair as the hosts chased down 304 with one ball to spare in Hobart. England also gained some familiarity with the WACA conditions in their hard-fought win over India on Friday, an encouraging victory given the knockout nature of the match and the hole in which they found themselves at 5 for 66 in their chase. But Australia have not dropped a game in the tournament and regain Mitchell Johnson for the first time in the series.
One curious point in favour of England is that Australia have an unfortunate tradition of slumping in their next match after the Allan Border Medal ceremony. The function is typically held in the middle of the one-day series and perhaps it short-circuits the players' focus, because since 2005 the only team they have beaten in the follow-up game has been the hapless West Indies. Last year the Allan Border Medal was followed by England beating Australia in an ODI in Perth - England's only victory on their otherwise disastrous tour. If Australia lose again, it might be worth scheduling future awards nights after the last match of the summer.
(last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Mitchell Johnson has had a month off cricket after a busy 14 months stretching back to the start of last summer's Ashes series. He missed the Sydney Test against India with what was described as hamstring soreness, but his rest then extended through the one-day series until returning for this final. The Australians will hope that Johnson does not take too long to fire back up, with this and the official World Cup warm-ups his only chances for match practice ahead of the tournament opener on February 14.
When England beat Australia in the Perth ODI last summer, Jos Buttler top scored with 71 from 43 balls, and his straight hitting was a key feature of his innings. Again he enjoyed the WACA conditions on Friday with 67 against India, an innings that went a long way to England recovering from a perilous position. Australia will know that even when they get England five down, danger remains until Buttler is dismissed.
Shane Watson is unlikely to be risked so close to the World Cup as he continues to battle a minor hamstring niggle, which should mean Mitchell Marsh retains his place after returning to the side for the wash-out in Sydney. Xavier Doherty is the man who will probably make way for Johnson.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Mitchell Marsh, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
England seem to have worked out their preferred XI before the World Cup so changes are unlikely, although Ravi Bopara's lack of form is a concern. Gary Ballance and Alex Hales are the other batsmen who could come into contention for Bopara's spot, but that would leave England with only five real bowling options, including Moeen Ali.
England (possible) 1 Ian Bell, 2 Moeen Ali, 3 James Taylor, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn.
Pitch and conditions
The WACA pitch provided some variable bounce during Friday's match between England and India, and neither team found the going easy with the bat. The forecast for Sunday is for a possible shower or storm and a top temperature of 33C.
Stats and trivia
- Ignoring the wash-out in Sydney, Australia have won 10 of their past 11 ODIs, stretching back to the start of their tour of the UAE. Their only loss in that time came to South Africa in Perth
- The two most recent ODIs between these teams at the WACA have resulted in the same margin of victory - 57 runs. Australia won in 2011 and England in 2014
"I don't think he'll play, to be perfectly honest ... We want to make sure everyone is 100% before they play for Australia."
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann on Shane Watson
"We had a bad run before this tour but now we're winning games. Winning on Sunday would be huge."
Eoin Morgan, the England captain
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale