Australia came out on top against England in Hobart but Saturday's T20 in Melbourne could be all about who does the chasing says Ed Hawkins...
"England are a much more palatable outfit in a chase anyway, particularly at this giant venue where skippers can struggle to adapt to an outfield which resembles a prairie."
Australia v England
Saturday 10 February, 08:20
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia are two from two and buoyant that they have put their ODI series travails against England behind them. Having razed New Zealand in Sydney, they were actually more impressive in beating their nemesis in Hobart.
That was because they were under the pump having chosen to field first. England were flexing their muscles at 109 for three in the 13th, Dawid Malan was set and Jos Buttler had joined him. But they held their never, executing decent variations on the ball (slower balls, off-cutters) to expose England's one-way approach.
Then they got off from the floor at four for two with their skipper, David Warner, back in the hutch following another failure, and Firestarter Chris Lynn well and truly doused. Glenn Maxwell's brilliant unbeaten 103 served as a reminder as to what could have been had he played earlier in the ODI.
They could still improve. With Aaron Finch due back the question has to be asked whether he should replace Warner as skip.
It is easy to criticise England from slipping from a power of strength batting first to a middling 155 in Hobart. England know only to attack. When it comes off, they are brilliant. When it doesn't they look like fools.
David Willey was chief wally last time out. His unsightly heave to be stumped off Glenn Maxwell when common sense dictated a more reserved approach put them under major pressure. But on another day he hits that for six. You pays your monies you takes your choice.
They are not, though, at full throttle. Jason Roy is out of touch and has been since his 180 in the first game of the ODi series, which seems aeons ago. And there is no Joe Root, Moeen Ali, a vital dasher lower down, or Ben Stokes.
On this tour Sam Billings must finally put his hand up while Malan will hope to build on an excellent start.
With the ball Liam Plunkett could come into contention but otherwise Mark Wood is a good option for pace. It seems unlikely both would play.
Here are the scores from this year's Big Bash (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second): 141-2/157-2/128-2/147-2/185-2. That's a 100% record for the chaser. This trend holds up historically in Bash cricket even though it's fifty-fifty in internationals. India defended 184 in 2016 but Australia couldn't defend 168 against Sri Lanka last year.
We are pleased there is an importance to the toss here. England may be too as they can probably feel the momentum shifting inexorably to Australia.
The bias gives us a hook to hang a bet on England at [2.4], with Australia shortening up to [1.70] in the wake of their strong Bellerive showing.
It is rare that the gulf in odds is justified in this format and although we rate Australia as jollies and most likely winners, we will always be looking to take on the prohibitively-priced. It could prove costly this series as the Aussies, with each win, will just keep getting shorter and shorter. But that's our cross to bear.
England are a much more palatable outfit in a chase anyway, particularly at this giant venue where skippers can struggle to adapt to an outfield which resembles a prairie.
Finch has top scored in Australia's last three T20s at the 'G. Lynn hit 63 from 46 balls there in the Bash. Maxwell is on his home ground. Each man is a better alternative to Warner, who cannot buy a score. Finch and Lynn are 3/1 with Betfair Sportsbook and Maxwell 4/1.
James Vince hit a rapid 40 for Sydney Thunder there in the Bash but he might not force his way in. He is 4/1. Roy is 3/1 and Alex Hales 16/5. We are still keener on Buttler and Eoin Morgan doing damage. But the price on Buttler is a point shorter at 5/1 than it was pre-Hobart. Morgan is 11/2.