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May 15, 2010
Report : Kieswetter and Pietersen seal title for England
Preview : Cricket's oldest battle resumes in newest format
News : How T20s became a serious business for Australia
Matches: Australia v England at Bridgetown
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Both finalists will be happy to be back in Barbados, a venue which has treated them well in this tournament. England warmed up here and then returned to beat Pakistan and South Africa in the Super Eights after a stressful time in Guyana, while Australia were too good for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India on a bouncy surface.
The wicket has been a revelation and is expected to provide an engrossing contest again with rewards on offer for bowlers and batsmen - Twenty20 is as much about an even contest as any format. Australia's fast-bowling trio of Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson relished the conditions and will be aiming to push the speed gun again.
England's seamers don't possess the same extreme pace and have relied more on subtle variation although it's unlikely that the slower-ball bouncers, used so effectively against Sri Lanka in the semi-final, will be as useful on this pitch. Expect the short balls to be nearing full pace this time.
"Two very good pace attacks will play tomorrow," Michael Clarke said. "England have bowlers with very good skills for this form of cricket. I don't think their pace is as quick as ours, we have three guys who bowl over 150 kph, but I think the execution has been very good. They are very intelligent T20 bowlers, using their change of pace and their bounces and I think our batsmen will have to be 'on' from the start. They certainly will have plans for all our batsmen, as we will have for them."
Clarke, though, couldn't hide his excitement at the prospect of being able to unleash his quicks again on this surface where they caused plenty of problems during the Super Eights.
"This wicket looks very good, very flat and hopefully it has a bit of pace and bounce in it for both teams, we both like that," he said. "I know our bowlers are very keen to get out there and test the wicket. You have got two very good bowling units on display here."
Australia's attack will provide a stern test for England's opening combination. Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter have played key roles in the team's success, setting a rapid pace at the top of the order. Now they'll have to combat the left-arm angle of Nannes, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, and Mitchell Johnson plus the slingy pace of Shaun Tait.
"We've got a plan of action against every team and right the way through the tournament, we have been very aggressive and I don't want to change our mindset going into the final," Paul Collingwood said. "There would be no reason at all to change anyone's mindset in the eleven that are going to play tomorrow."
The England batsmen were discussing Australia's left-armers in the nets on Saturday while Collingwood, who like Clarke is the batsman with least form in his team, was finding his range in the middle with the highly successful practice skill of standing by the pitch and smashing throw-downs into the stands. It may sound rudimentary, but it has been a key reason for England's successful six-hitting.
"That's why the guys are going to go out with confidence and belief and keep doing the things they have been doing well throughout this tournament," he said. "We have done it against fast bowlers, against [Dale] Steyn and [Morne] Morkel, they are two very fast bowlers, we have got different angles tomorrow that is the probably the only thing we have got to contend with but we have played against pace bowling before and I believe the guys have got the skills to do it."
There was also a gusty breeze blowing in Barbados the day before the final and, as Mike Hussey said after his breathtaking 60 against Pakistan, it has been vital to use the wind. They sound like minor points, but in this final it could be the small details that make the difference.
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