James Piechowski previews the first WWT20 semi-final, taking place later today between England and Australia.
Coverage: Sky TV, BBC Radio TMS
The most famous rivalry in international cricket resumes, this time at the semi final stage of the WWT20. Both sides have recorded recent victories over each other, and appear to be about equally matched. Australia will have the psychological edge, holding the Ashes trophy and having beaten England in the 2014 and 2012 WWT20 finals. On the other hand, England will be keen for some payback. Both sides know each other so well, and it may come down to who can hold their nerve best under pressure.
England will be looking to continue their positive batting approach in the powerplay, but avoid the regular loss of wickets afterwards that can reduce their final total. Anything could happen in this game, but needless to say the wickets of Edwards and Lanning will be vital to either side’s chances. England do have the resources, on paper, to progress ito the final. With Edwards, Taylor, Knight, and a resurgent Tammy Beaumont, they have plenty to offer with the bat; and Brunt and Shrubsole are probably the world’s premier opening bowling pairing when on song.
It’s debatable whether England would have rather faced New Zealand instead – although they have less psychological baggage to deal with in that case, NZ are in better form. Australia will be keen to avoid too many early losses, as the NZ game showed they can struggle to post a defendable total with 3 or 4 cheap wickets down. The game is bound to be incredibly tight, and it’s hard to pick a winner. England appear to be in better form with a string of wins under their belt, and they also were challenged during qualification. History has a funny way of repeating itself, though. They will have to dig deep, but it would not surprise me at all if Australia are able to find the resources to pull off a memorable win.
Pitch/scores: The pitch has played quite well so far in the competition and looks set for scores of 130 plus. This is good news for both sides, as well as for observers, and should result in a higher scoring and more exciting game than some of the low 100s pitches we have seen.