ICC T20 World Cup: Gulf News experts and Mr. Cricket UAE analyse flying start for England and Australia
England, the reigning 50-overs World Cup champions, have laid down the marker to claim their second T20 World Cup crown in the UAE this year. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The England versus Australia game in Group 1 on Saturday may be a regulation one with two of the frontrunners from the group, but there is no mistaking the bigger picture whenever they clash - and across formats.

Australia, who have been buoyed by the welcome return to form of David Warner and captain Aaron Finch during their runaway win against Sri Lanka on Friday night, will looking at the battle against their arch rivals with a renewed vigour after having just scraped through against South Africa in the opening match. England, on the other hand, have been hardly tested in their two wins so far - the first one proving to be an anti-climax against the reigning champions West Indies who folded up for an abymsal 55 and then a walk in the park against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi.

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While there will be no dearth of fans or pundits from both countries who will seek clues for the upcoming Ashes from the result of this match - given the fact there will be a sizeable number of players common to both teams during the marquee Test series. It’s however good to see the game as just another high profile one at this point for who knows if they run into each other at a later stage again.

There is an aura of invincibility about Eoin Morgan’s men in white ball formats now - which enables them to look at the most formidable of opponents in the eye now - as one saw in both the ODI series and T20 series against India earlier this year. A top order comprising of the irrepresible Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow and new find Liam Livingstone - not to speak of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes lower down - have really added depth while the variety in their bowling attack is also enviable.

The world No.1 ranked T20 team’s reserves of talent is so awesome that they have so far not felt the absence of the multi-tasker Ben Stokes, Sam Curran or Jofra Archer. However, the contest on Saturday evening will pit them against a different kettle of fish who looked more in their elements against the Lankans on Friday night.

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Australia's white ball captain Aaron Finch (left) and David Warner during their match-winning partnership against Sri Lanka on Friday night. Image Credit: AFP

The toss has assumed a vital importance in the evening matches in Dubai - with the winning captain preferring to follow the template of chasing totals as the batting conditions improve significantly with the dew factor. However, the Australia-Sri Lanka game did not see much of it in Friday’s game but the enterprising partnership between Warner and Finch made things too easy for them to complete the job.

A redeeming feature of the yellow shirts’ performance was their body language during the chase - the ‘Big Three’ of Warner, Finch and former captain Steve Smith were running their singles hard and wanted to finish the game in a hurry with an eye on the nett run-rate. If there were some apprehensions about the depth of Australian batting, Smith’s form comes as a welcome augury for them - though the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis may have to shun a bit of their boom-or-bust approach against the experienced opponents.

Speaking about his return to form, which saw Warner scoring his first half-century since the India leg of the IPL, Warner revealed that practise sessions on synthetic and concrete wickets to iron out the kinks in his basics worked for him well.

“You need to sometimes go back to a little bit of basics, getting bat on ball and just doing normal drills and get your feet dancing. That’s helped and that’s something we’ll be continuing through this World Cup,” he added.

Catch the match

England vs Australia

Venue: Dubai International Stadium

Match starts at 6 pm UAE