Bridgetown: Australia’s brute batting force and consistent bowling would be put through a stern test against a spirited England when the two Ashes rivals clash in the finals of the Twenty20 cricket World Cup here on Sunday.
Australia go into the match with sky-high confidence after chasing down a seemingly improbable 191 against Pakistan in the semifinals last night.
But it would hardly be a stroll in the park for Michael Clarke’s men as England have played some outstanding cricket in the championship and just like Australia, they have been unbeaten since the Super Eights stage.
England, who were hardly seen as title contenders before the start of the tournament, have been a revelation with an array of attacking batsmen and bowling all-rounders.
They bat deep and have bowled with purpose and discipline right through the competition. Their fielding has been good as well.
But Paul Collingwood’s men cannot match the Australians in talent and versality despite having the tenacity and confidence to take on their arch-rivals.
However, the fast and bouncy Kensington Oval wicket will pose a challenge to the English batsman, who haven’t faced the kind of pace which Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait generate, in this competition yet.
The tearaway Australian quicks have consistently bowled at over 145 kph and have extracted disconcerting bounce from the bone-hard surface.
But this being their first major championship final in six years, England would be as keen as Australia to take the title back home. But to achieve that, they would have to play their best cricket yet.
“The boys have been responding well every time. The batsmen on top of the order have been giving great starts. Sometimes we need to finish the pieces of jigsaw,” said Collingwood.
“We have very good players. We have selected players on potential and they have done fantastically well. We are confident they can deliver,” he added.
Clarke, meanwhile, also has his eyes firmly set on the elusive Cup.
“We have worked hard over the last 12 months to win the one cup that we haven’t. The boys are keen that we achieve what we had set out for. So we will come and play our best cricket,” said Clarke.
But the Australian captain admitted that England would be a hard team to beat and the one man they would have to watch out for is Kevin Pietersen, who is in excellent form.
The hard-hitting batsman, who recently became a father, has scores of 72 not out, 53 and 42 not out in the last three innings.
Clarke said the key to Australia’s success would be to get rid of Pietersen at the start of the innings.
“Kevin (Pietersen) is a wonderful player in each form of the game. He has been hitting the ball well here. To get him out early would be good for us,” averred Clarke.
Pietersen has dominated the bowlers, even stepping out and hitting the fast bowlers over the top with impunity. It will be interesting to watch how the Aussies tame his aggression.
“As this event has shown they are very competitive. They have great talent and have plenty of match-winners. It will not be easy to beat them,” said Clarke about the challenge awaiting his team.
Considering the form that Shane Watson, David Warner, Cameron White and Michael Hussey are in, Clarke has little to worry on the batting front. But the skipper would be slightly concerned about his own form as he is yet to strike big in the event.
England have a decent pace attack with Stuart Broad being the in-form strike bowler.
The two teams have ended the sub-continental supremacy in the event and given the history between the two rivals, the contest promises to be an exciting one but Australia go in as favourites as their team has the depth to deal with England’s tenacity.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Daniel Christian, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Nathan Hauritz, Shaun Tait, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, David Hussey, Steven Smith, Dirk Nannes, Ryan Harris, Tim Paine
England: Paul Collingwood (captain), Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson, Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Tim Bresnan, Michael Yardy, Stuart Broad, James Tredwell, Ajmal Shahzad, Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter.