Johnson returns as Australia look to wrap up title

Johnson returns as Australia look to wrap up title

The whole of last summer, when England came Down Under for the Ashes and a five-match one-day series, Mitchell Johnson unleashed reign of terror with his lightening thunderbolts.

England were consigned to a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes and were hammered 4-1 in the one-day leg of the tour as Johnson proved too hot to handle. As the two sides square up in the tri-series final on Sunday, the fiery paceman comes back after resting himself for over a month. The left-arm quick couldn’t have chosen a better venue than the WACA on his return to competitive cricket.

While the inclusion of Johnson adds more teeth, the Aussie attack has been lethal even without him. Mitchell Starc, who tops the bowling charts with 12 wickets from four outings in the series, will particularly enjoy bowling on this surface where two of his four ODI five-wicket hauls have come. With Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood jostling for a place to join Johnson, Starc and James Fauklner, Australia face a problem of plenty.  
 
“It’s tempting to play all four quicks, I reckon, when you see a wicket like that,” said Australian skipper George Bailey. “We are sitting down this afternoon to sort that out but we are really happy that Mitchell Johnson is back and not that happy that he has been building up his overs in the nets. So it will be nice to actually see him unleash on the opposition rather than us being a cannon-fodder for the last couple of days which has been a bit nasty.”

Not for nothing, the pitch at the WACA is regarded as a paradise for the faster bowlers and going by the turn of events on Saturday, when between them India and England lost as many as 14 wickets to pacers, it’s going to be a potentially explosive contest between two fine pace attacks in the world at the moment.   

James Anderson and Steven Finn have been impressive through the tournament for England while Stuart Broad is slowly falling back into rhythm. Chris Woakes has handled the new ball with satisfying results so far.      While it could potentially boil down to who bowls well on Sunday, both batting units have shown their class and depth. Australia, with Steven Smith and David Warner in top form, have proved they can chase down big totals and from any situation. England piled on a 300-plus total in Hobart, albeit in a losing cause, while they battled past a tricky situation here against India to eke out a win.

Should England face a situation like they did on Saturday, it will take some effort for them to fight their way out of trouble against Johnson and company.

“He’s a top bowler but he hasn’t played in this series,” said Jos Buttler, whose half-century helped England clinch a spot in the final. “But he’s a top performer and if we want to win the game we have to perform well against him and the rest of their bowlers. Mitchell Starc is doing well too. It’s a good bowling attack but that’s exactly what we need to come up against and do well against if we want to win the game tomorrow. And going into the World Cup, if we want to do well we have to perform well against the best,” he remarked.


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