Fascinating battle of old foes

Fascinating battle of old foes

Intrepid new England take on nerveless Australia in high-voltage title clash today

Fascinating battle of old foes

Mike Hussey is over the moon after conjuring a blazing unbeaten 60 which shattered Pakistani hopes and catapulted Australia to the final of the World T20 for the first time. AP

Having dominated the game for a major part, Pakistan flattered to deceive like only they can. But when someone comes up with an innings, rightly termed by skipper Michael Clarke as freakish, like the one Mike Hussey produced, there is little chance for the opposition.

Needing 70 off the last five overs and 18 from the final over, Hussey went on a six-hitting spree as Australia overhauled the second-highest total of this tournament.

Pushed to the wall

For the first time in this competition, the Australian pacemen were pushed to the wall. The pitch at the Beausejour Cricket Ground isn’t similar in nature to that at the Kensington Oval, but the Aussies still weren’t expected to be hammered all around the park.

They appeared to have missed a trick or two on the slow wicket, but come Sunday, they will be playing in conditions where they can feel at home. The pace bowling trio of Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson has relished bowling on the bouncy track here, and they will be itching to have a go at the English batsmen in the final. 

“We take a lot of confidence going to Barbados, no doubt,” said Clarke, his eagerness obvious. “I would really love to get to Barbados because that wicket will be really beautiful for our fast bowlers. Our batters like a little bit of pace to come on to the bat also.The conditions there suit us.”

England have been quite impressive throughout the tournament as well. Like the Aussies, Paul Collingwood’s men have lost just one match, a rain-affected first-hase game to the West Indies.

While they haven’t been as dominant as the Australians, the Englishmen too have been tested by their opponents. In that context, it will be interesting to see how England stack up against their traditional rivals.

After a long time, England have shown rare pluck in limited-overs cricket. Their bowlers have been adequate, the batsmen have played with rare freedom and the fielding has looked world class.

It wasn’t surprising to hear Collingwood term this squad the best T20 side England have ever put up. “Let's be honest, there aren’t too many areas we can improve in,” Collingwood said while stressing the need to maintain the same intensity on the big day.
“We just need to keep the same mentality -- and that’s going to be the hard thing, going into a big game. But the boys keep responding.

“Every time we analyse the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses and we keep executing our plans. If the batsmen at the top of the order keep doing it well, we aren’t going to go too far wrong.”

Kevin Pietersen has shown the way with his customary cavalier approach. The right-hander’s form has been one of the main reasons for England’s dream run so far.
They have also been well-served by the opening pair of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter, who have on most occasions provided good starts. The English bowling attack may not stack up with the Australians, but it’s been doing the job as well as anyone else.

Having made it to the finals of a big event after a gap of six years, England will be looking to set a record straight. They are the only major Test-playing nation not to have won any of the ICC’s limited-overs tournaments, while the World T20 is the only trophy missing from Australia’s glittering cabinet. Sunday will decide whose dream will be fulfilled.    

Teams (from):
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, David Warner, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, David Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes, Nathan Hauritz, Tim Paine, Daniel Christian.
England: Paul Collingwood (capt), Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright, Tim Bresnan, Michael Yardy, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom, Ravi Bopara, James Anderson, James Tredwell, Ajmal Shahzad.

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