Birmingham: Five-time champion Australia and six-time semifinalist England meet the second semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2019 at Edgbaston here on Thursday.
Australia have beaten England in the warm-up as well as the group stage game, but the hosts will want to settle scores in the match where it matters the most.
Before the tournament, hosts England, along with India, were touted by some as unequivocal favourites to lift the cup. No team has burst that illusion quite as magnificently as their Ashes rivals.
Australia's dominating performance at Lord's, where they beat England by 64 runs in the group stages is still fresh in everyone's minds, but the five-time champions had announced themselves even before the tournament actually began, triumphing over the hosts by 12 runs in Southampton in the warm-ups.
England, on the other hand, have been inconsistent. They have struggled to chase scores throughout the tournament ? their 20-run defeat to Sri Lanka in chase of a modest 233 exemplified that. They will have to hope for a much more solid batting performance from their batsmen should Australia get the chance to bat first yet again.
Australia too have looked a lot more comfortable defending. The two games they lost in the group stages were both while chasing, the second defeat came in their previous game against South Africa, where they fell short of 325 by 10 runs.
That defeat has forced Australia to look at potential changes. Peter Handscomb, who was drafted into the side as a replacement for the injured Shaun Marsh, is confirmed to make his World Cup debut. Matthew Wade has been lined up as a replacement for Khawaja in the squad, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring strain. Wade has been in terrific form for Australia A, and may be considered in place of the misfiring Glenn Maxwell.
England seem relatively settled coming into the semis on back of two wins against sides like India and New Zealand. But the two recent defeats to Australia might well cancel out any perceived psychological advantage. One can expect a close affair.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk),
Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben
Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey
(wk), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins,
Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon, Matthew Wade
(pending official confirmation).(UNI)