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January 18, 2014
Ehantharajah: It could be all over for England
Match FactsJanuary 19, 2014, Sydney
The Big Picture
What more can England do? Well, perhaps not bowl half-volleys in the dying stages of a run chase, but apart from that they played as well in the Brisbane ODI as they have on this whole tour of Australia. Still, they lost. They were effectively 'Faulknered'. It will be difficult for England not to slump after getting their hopes up only to have them dashed, but they should take confidence from the Gabba match. They scored 300, Eoin Morgan became their first century-maker since Ben Stokes in the Perth Test, Ian Bell looked in good touch until he was run out, their fielding was good - a lot went right for England. They can enter the third match in Sydney with belief, if they can convince themselves to do so. They must avoid telling themselves that the Gabba heist proves Australia are unbeatable.
For Australia, this is a chance to secure the five-match series after three games. It would be the first time in five campaigns that a team followed an Ashes win with an accompanying victory in the one-dayers. The road to No.1 in the world would become that little bit shorter. Their challenge is to avoid complacency. Faulkner got them out of jail - Michael Clarke's disbelieving smile after the match showed that he knew it. The rest of the players must not take the win for granted. England can beat them. Much of Australia's pace bowling was off the mark in Brisbane; they need to find their line once again. And if they can extend England's pain one more match, they will celebrate another series win in Sydney.
Form guide(Completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
James Faulkner was the story in Friday's game, but it was Glenn Maxwell who kept Australia in the hunt during the middle overs. Maxwell's improvised reverse-sweeping, pulling and glancing made it almost impossible for Alastair Cook to stem the run flow until he tried to do too much and was caught pulling to midwicket. Maxwell's hitting will not always come off but he is a dangerous man in Australia's middle order.
Jos Buttler has been overshadowed by team-mates in the first two ODIs but his contributions of 34 not out from 21 balls and 49 off 36 have highlighted how valuable his striking can be down the order. England's top scorer in the win over the Prime Minister's XI with 61, Buttler could just be building up to an innings of significance in this series, especially if he gets the chance to come in earlier in the innings at some point.
Shane Watson remains in resting mode, which may mean no changes are made to the batting group for this match, unless George Bailey's groin niggle rules him out. Steve Smith has also been called up to the squad as additional cover. The move to Sydney could bring a recall for the spinner Xavier Doherty, perhaps at the expense of Nathan Coulter-Nile, although the selectors may also be interested in seeing James Pattinson return.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey / Steve Smith, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty / James Pattinson.
Joe Root is the primary worry in England's batting order but he bowled well in Brisbane and picked up two wickets in the absence of a specialist spinner. His place may be determined by whether England want to bring James Tredwell in at the expense of one of the fast bowlers. If so, they could also consider a Root-Michael Carberry switch at No.3. Stuart Broad is available again after being rested.
England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Michael Carberry / Joe Root, 4 Gary Ballance, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Ben Stokes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Chris Jordan, 11 Tim Bresnan / James Tredwell.
Pitch and conditions
The two ODIs in Sydney last summer provided first-innings totals around the 220 mark. In both of those games spin took a back seat to pace. The forecast for Sunday is partly cloudy and 27C.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We obviously had a tough time in England. We know the pain they are feeling at the moment. We don't feel sorry for them at all."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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