2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Semi-Final 2
Thursday, 11 July; 10.30am local time; 09.30am GMT
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.
Jason Roy: England have looked a markedly more complete side with Roy in the side. He missed the last game against Australia at Lord's but has since returned to full flow and he would be itching to leave his mark on the big occasion.
Steve Smith: With changes afoot in the Australian middle-order, the experienced Smith will likely have a big role to play. His form this tournament hasn't been upto the mark so far, but the weight of the occasion might just spur the 30-year-old on.
Unfortunately, there is some degree of rain on the radar in Birmingham and clouds are expected to be present through the course of the game. As for the pitch, one can expect a good surface for batting.
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)