Amidst all negativity surrounding the Australian squad regarding their tussles with Cricket Australia (CA) overpayment related issues, the squad will be eager to commence its ICC Champions Trophy 2017 campaign on a high when they take on the Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at Birmingham.
Australia has had the upper hand over the Kiwis in ICC events historically and going into this game, the Steven Smith-led outfit would be eager to continue this dominance over their arch rivals.
Most of the members of the Aussie setup are coming on the back of some high-octane cricket played in India for the six weeks long IPL. Thereby, acclimatising to the cold and overcast conditions of England wouldn’t be an easy task for sure.
To add to that, the fatigue factor of being on the go since mid-February during their Test assignment in India will be another issue.
A lot will depend on Australia’s batting spine, comprising mainly of David Warner and captain Steven Smith. Warner, in particular, has been in some serious ODI form, having breached a few records in 2016 with his superb batting performance, piling up century after century. In a country where he has struggled throughout his career, Warner will be eager to make a mark.
Incidentally, Australia’s previous ODI assignment came up against their rivals on Friday, New Zealand, in a three-match series away from home. Both sides benched their main players and Australia went into the series without the services of David Warner and Steven Smith. Throughout the series though, the Kangaroos were dominated by New Zealand, as the Kiwis wrapped up the series 2-0, with one game being washed out.
An all out pace attack will offer a riveting sight for the viewers and Steven Smith has dropped enough hints of doing so. Among the four pacers that will play, three are certain, in the form of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. The fourth spot will be a direct toss between the returning James Pattinson and John Hastings. It is unlikely that Adam Zampa will get a look in, as Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell can roll their arms over for a few overs of spin.
Another tossup will be for the slot of an all-rounder and the two choices are in the form of Marcus Stoinis and Moises Henriques. While Stoinis impressed everyone in New Zealand earlier this year, it was Henriques who did well in the IPL. It will be interesting to see Australia’s choice for the game, however.
Australia Predicted XI:
David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith (c), Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood