The likely semi-finalists from Group 1 meet in Dubai and Matt Harris suspects Australia have a surprise in store for hot favourites England
"Eoin Morgan, and England as a whole, have yet to be fully tested following straightforward wins over West Indies and Bangladesh"
Australia v England
Saturday October 30th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Warner completes the package
The only box left for Australia to tick was duly signed off as David Warner made an overdue return to form against Sri Lanka. With Aaron Finch making a five-ball duck in the first game, both openers were under pressure but Warner's 65, backed up by 37 from 23 balls from the skipper, suggests that the Aussies could be the complete package as we edge towards the knockouts.
Adam Zampa has impressed with the ball and claimed a deserved Player of the Match award with his 2/12 from four overs. Australia hauled the game back after Sri Lanka raced through the Powerplay and the only time I was concerned came when they threw the ball to Marcus Stoinis.
Every team needs a sixth bowler but Mitchell Marsh was surely a better option after Glenn Maxwell had gone for 16 from his solitary over. It was a minor point in the context of a comfortable win but this type of decision will be more crucial against stronger opponents.
Like Australia, England also needed their most prominent left hander to get back in the runs. Eoin Morgan talked openly about dropping himself from the side but few of us really expect a change of captain at this stage of the competition.
Morgan, and England as a whole, have yet to be fully tested following straightforward wins over West Indies and Bangladesh. That could change on Saturday and we'll know more about the skipper, Dawid Malan and the batting depth of this team at the end of the game.
Among many positives is Tymal Mills whose pace and variation could make the difference between two evenly matched teams.
Scores increasing steadily in Dubai
This is my third straight preview for the Dubai International Cricket Stadium: Based on results from the second phase of IPL 14, I've been saying that sides need to be defending scores of 160 - 165 and we're not quite there yet.
Sri Lanka's 154 boosted the average first innings score on this surface to 125 but all four totals were chased down before the final over began. These aren't fast scoring surfaces but whoever takes first knock will have to look beyond 160 to stand any chance.
England are the 50-Over World Champions, they were among the pre-tournament favourites and have barely broken stride in their opening two games. Captain Morgan's men are obviously going to lead the match betting here but do they really deserve to be as short as 1.684/6 as opposed to Australia's 2.427/5?
There have been issues with Australia's limited overs squad but they look to be peaking in terms of form and are free of major injury issues which is a rare thing among their bowlers.
The toss is clearly going to be important with the first six games in this section going to the chasing side. You may want to defer judgement until the coin lands but, while I won't be popular over the weekend within my social circle, I'm backing Australia to claim the points.
If Australia are to back up my match bet, they will need to split England's openers early and expose the under pressure batsmen - Morgan and Malan. Meanwhile, Jonny Bairstow can go unnoticed when he's not opening in the short forms.
In this scenario where Bairstow gets in early, he has quality and consistency to lead England's resistance and, at around 5.59/2 in his side's top batsman market, he's also at a generous price. Other picks here will include Jos Buttler at 3.412/5, Jason Roy at around 4.03/1 and Liam Livingstone at 5.59/2 or better.
David Warner's return to form is one of the reasons why I think Australia are too good to turn down at that 2.427/5 win price. The team is gaining momentum at the right time and only needed Warner to get back in the runs.
Once he finds his touch, he's difficult to shift so, if you're not sure about my two outside bets, you could consider Warner as the favourite at around 4.03/1 to top score for Australia.
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Matt Harris' World Cup P/L
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