England ODI stars can continue to dazzle
Batting depth gives whitewash-chasing tourists edge over Australia
BT Sport 1, 3.20am Friday
England fans spent much of the winter fretting about a 5-0 Ashes whitewash but their only concern now is whether the ODI team ease off after taking an unassailable 3-0 series lead over Australia.
A 5-0 whitewash was 40-1 at the start of the series but England have produced clinical displays in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney to extend the Aussies’ woeful 50-over run to ten losses in their last 11 completed matches.
England, in contrast, have won 18 of their last 20 one-day internationals and are worth backing to continue on their merry way when the fourth ODI starts in Adelaide.
Their batting depth was illustrated by a crucial stand between number six Jos Buttler (100 not out) and number eight Chris Woakes (53 not out), which carried them from 189-6 to 302-6 in the third ODI at the SCG.
Australia ended up 16 runs shy of that total and seething over the decision to give Steve Smith out caught behind for 45 despite doubts that the ball had carried cleanly to Buttler.
That was a slice of luck for England but they had to cope with the misfortune of losing paceman Liam Plunkett to injury, meaning part-timer Joe Root had to bowl 8.4 overs.
The spin of Root, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid has tied down Australia’s batsmen throughout the series and leg-spinner Rashid should be particularly excited about the game in Adelaide, where he excelled for the Strikers in the Big Bash two years ago.
Even without Ben Stokes, England’s top order is packed with powerful strikers of the ball with Root, Woakes, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow all making fifties and Buttler and Jason Roy (180 in the first ODI) reaching three figures.
Australia have been reliant on opener Aaron Finch, who must be feeling peeved that the hosts are 3-0 down in the series despite his scores of 107, 106 and 62.
Mark Wood’s dismissal of David Warner, roughed up by a short-pitched delivery in the second over of the first ODI, set the tone for the series although the Adelaide Oval surface could prove more batsman-friendly.
Warner scored a career-best 179 off just 128 deliveries in the most recent ODI at the venue, sharing an opening stand of 284 with Travis Head against Pakistan.
Even then, there were signs of the Aussies’ soft underbelly – once the first wicket fell the remaining batsmen contributed four off two balls, 13 off seven, eight off six, one off two, 18 not out off 12, six off five and one off one.
Warner and Head cracked eight of the 14 sixes struck in the match and bet365’s line of 11.5 maximums looks well within the scope of Australia and England’s big hitters.
There were 12 sixes in the first ODI in Melbourne and the third game in Sydney and with England assured of victory in the series there could be some more extravagant strokeplay from batsmen on both sides.
One of the men most keen to make an impression is Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who is worth a small bet at 11-1 to top-score for the home side.
Finch’s fine run of form has propelled him above Smith and Warner at the head of the market but, as Buttler showed in the last game, it is dangerous to rule out any of the top six batsmen.
Stoinis has a strong claim to having played the best one-day innings of 2017 – an unbeaten 146 off 117 balls which took Australia to within seven runs of an amazing win in New Zealand last January.
He struck 11 sixes in Auckland that day and has shown glimpses of that destructive ability in this series, blasting 60 off 40 balls in the first ODI and 56 from 43 at the SCG last time out. Given the struggles of the Aussie top order (Finch excepted) Stoinis could have a major role to play again.
3pts 11-10 Paddy Power
Over 11.5 sixes
1pt 5-6 bet365
M Stoinis top Australia runscorer
1pt 11-1 Betfair
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