Melbourne: England skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl against Australia in their World Cup opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. England have brought in Gary Ballance for Ravi Bopara while Australia left out spinner Xavier Doherty, preferring spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Morning rain cleared to sunny skies for the start of the match with the MCG slowly filling towards an anticipated 90,000 full house.
“We were looking to bat, so we’re very happy,” said Australia captain George Bailey. “It looks a great wicket, and will be for the entire game and hopefully we will do well.”
Morgan added: “It shouldn’t change through the game but a bit of storm came through so maybe there’s a bit of moisture as well. Ballance is in, batting at No. 3. Ravi’s out. We’ve gone for the extra batter today.
Australia are peaking at the right time for a crack at their fifth World Cup triumph and have only lost one of their last 12 ODIs against all-comers.
England, chasing a maiden World Cup title, head into the tournament with fresh painful memories of three losses to the Australians, including a crushing 112-run defeat in the recent tri-series final.
Morgan’s team have to turn around a wretched record of two wins from their last 15 ODI encounters in Australia.
The last of England’s three losing World Cup finals was in Australia in 1992.
Here are the live updates.
Ian Bell and Gary Ballance were looking steady at the crease but the Australian bowlers are in good form and Mitchell Marsh has just picked up Ballance after Aaron Finch caught an easy one at short midwicket. England now are going at 4.76 runs an over with the required run-rate slowly creeping above seven runs.
England started off chasing down the mammoth total of 343 runs on a confident note, but that didn’t last for long as Mitchell Starc provided the Aussies with an early breakthrough after Moeen Ali mistimed his shot that left skipper George Bailey pick up an easy catch.
Not the best morning to wake up to in England, and you might feel even worse when you learn that Aaron Finch, Australia’s first centurion against England in a World Cup match, was dropped on zero. England pinned their hopes on the pitch having retained enough moisture from the overnight rain and their new-ball attack. Just when skipper Eoin Morgan’s decision to send the Aussies into bat looked it may backfire, the giant Broad stepped up to rock the home side. He bowled the dangerous David Warner for 22 and then with the next ball in his fourth over had Shane Watson caught behind for a duck.
Australia, who had breezed on a 50-run opening stand off just 37 balls, were rocking at 57 for two in the eighth over. Steve Smith, however, kept out the hat-trick ball by digging out a Broad yorker. Chris Woakes put down a sharp chance at mid-wicket before Aaron Finch had scored in James Anderson’s opening over and the little opener profited to be 33 off 27 balls.
Steven Smith, who was the new man in after Broad sent Watson back to the dressing room looked a bit shaky and it showed after the energetic batsman knocked a Chris Woakes delivery back at the stumps.
But the next few hours were full of woe. George Bailey lugged himself into form with a nifty little fifty and Finch drove, flicked, dabbed and cut his way to one of his more calculated centuries. Finch picked up his sixth ODI hundred in just 102 deliveries leading Australia’s comeback into the game. His century also marks the first of this World Cup and what a knock it was.
Finch also received a standing ovation from the 90,000 odd audience at the MCG. Skipper Bailey is providing good support to Finch at the other end and both the batsmen are looking well settled at the crease. A good game currently going on at Melbourne is well received by the fans.
Australia were looking at a total of 340 plus runs when Aaron Finch was at the middle but their hopes were shattered after England skipper Eoin Morgan led from the front, providing the breakthrough with a direct throw at the stumps to send Finch walking back after scoring a noteworthy 135 off 128 deliveries.
Steven Finn took care of Aussie skipper George Bailey after he edged one back at the stumps. Bailey scored a decent 55 off 69 balls. Australia had two new men at the crease- Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh.
And if his dismissal, and Bailey’s in quick succession might have signalled a fightback, Glenn Maxwell’s blitz snuffed it all out. England’s tactic of bowling slower short balls backfired horribly as they leaked 105 runs in the last 10. Maxwell fired a quick 66 off 63 balls to take Australia well beyond the 300 run mark. Mitchell Marsh too contributed to the total scoring 23. Brad Haddin too had a good day with the bat scoring 31 runs off 23 deliveries. He also touched a milestone- 3000 runs in ODI.
England bowlers were very poor barring a few exceptional performances from Steven Finn, who picked up the first hat-trick of this World Cup but was expensive going for 71 runs. Broad picked up two wickets while Chris Woakes picked up one as Australia now pose 343 runs on the board.
Australia – David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, George Bailey (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
England – Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), James Taylor, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson.