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January 30, 2014
'Selection issues loom large for England'
Match FactsJanuary 31, 2014, Melbourne
Different format, different players, same result. That was the case in Hobart on Wednesday, when Australia's Twenty20 specialists continued England's miserable tour with a 13-run victory that was set up by a powerful batting performance. England now find themselves needing to win the second game in Melbourne to have any hope of flying home with a series win at the end of a long and arduous trip.
England's batting was reasonable enough to get them up to 200, albeit with the help of some late and futile striking from Ravi Bopara, but it was their bowling that caused the problems, unable as they were to contain Cameron White and Aaron Finch in the early stages of the match. England might also have another talented Victorian batsman to keep in check at the MCG with the recall of Brad Hodge to the side for the first time in nearly six years.
Form guide(Completed matches, most recent first)
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Last time Brad Hodge played a Twenty20 for his country the first season of the IPL had not even begun. Now, Hodge is the leading run-scorer of all time in Twenty20 cricket, but at 39 he believed his international career was long since finished. The cynical view of his recall would be that it might help ticket sales at his home ground, but he knows that with plenty of T20 experience in Bangladesh, he could be an attractive proposition for Australia's selectors with the World T20 to be held there in less than two months. A strong performance in this match would make him hard to ignore.
The scorecard for the first match would suggest that Ravi Bopara got England close to their target with his unbeaten 65 from 27 balls, but the reality is that his sixes came too late for England to have any hope of victory. That they came at all should be encouraging for England, though, given that Bopara struggled for batting impact during the ODI series. The question is, can he do it again?
The Melbourne fans would be disappointed if Hodge was included in the squad only to miss out, but apart from swapping him for Moises Henriques it is hard to imagine any other batting changes after the success in Hobart. Josh Hazlewood was expensive with the ball and might be under pressure from either Ben Cutting or Kane Richardson.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Cameron White, 3 Brad Hodge, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Chris Lynn, 7 Daniel Christian, 8 Matthew Wade (wk), 9 Ben Cutting, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 11 James Muirhead.
Despite the fact that several key batsmen fell cheaply in Hobart, changes would appear more likely in England's attack than their top order. Danny Briggs was expensive and could be replaced by James Tredwell, while Jade Dernbach also leaked runs and could be under pressure from Ben Stokes.
England (possible) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 Jade Dernbach/Ben Stokes, 11 James Tredwell.
Pitch and conditions
The MCG pitch should be good for batting and the forecast for Friday is clear with a top temperature of 29C.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I don't need to call on anything else other than experience to know exactly what I can do."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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