George Bailey top scored for Australia against England. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Two-time defending champion Australia could face a premature exit from the Champions Trophy in England and Wales if they lose to New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday. With each team scheduled to play just three matches during the group stage, Australia can ill afford another defeat after going down to England by 48 runs on Saturday. Although defeat does not condemn them to certain elimination, Mickey Arthur will want to ensure that his team doesn’t have to rely on other results going their way to progress to the final four.
Skipper Michael Clarke has again been ruled out with a back injury, meaning that the much-maligned George Bailey will lead the side again. The national T20 captain top scored in the tournament opener against England with 55 and also showed his affinity for conditions in the mother land by being Australia’s leading runscorer in the bi-lateral series between the countries last year. One man that hasn’t come to grips with the conditions is David Warner , who has two ducks and nine from his three innings on tour. It is important that he and Shane Watson lay a platform at the top of the order for their teammates to build on.
New Zealand is unlikely to make any changes to the side that beat Sri Lanka by one wicket on Sunday, even though they only limped to a target of 139. With no real alternative options in the touring party, former Australian limited overs player Luke Ronchi is likely to continue at the top of the order for the Black Caps despite reaching double figures just once in his past five visits to the crease. The form of his opening partner Martin Guptill can’t be questioned, with the 26 year-old having accumulated 355 runs in four limited overs innings since landing in England.
Although Australia has dominated recent clashes between these nations with seven wins from the past nine meetings, they have struggled to adjust to the swinging and seaming conditions in England and have lost five consecutive ODI matches in the country. New Zealand on the other hand beat England 2-1 in a bi-lateral 50 over series earlier this month before knocking Sri Lanka off in their opening fixture of this tournament.
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