Australia eye successive final in Champions Trophy

Having sneaked into the semifinals with a last-ball victory over Pakistan, Australia will have to plug their batting loopholes when they take on England.

updated: October 02, 2009 06:54 IST
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Having sneaked into the semifinals with a last-ball victory over Pakistan, Australia will have to plug their batting loopholes when they take on their traditional rivals England in the first semifinal of the Champions Trophy on Friday.

Chasing 206 against Pakistan on Wednesday, Australia's middle order collapsed from a comfortable position before they struggled their way to the semifinal and skipper Ricky Ponting will have to ensure his men do not repeat the same mistakes.

Australia had recently registered a convincing 6-1 victory over England in the ODI series in England and Ponting will hope his team draws inspiration from that series and comes up with a similar performance on Friday.

"We had a very good series against England over there but its different conditions here and I think they are playing really good cricket. We have to make sure we play well in the next match on Friday," Ponting said.

On paper, Australia does not seem to have any chink but yesterday's match showed their vulnerability to quality bowling specially at the end overs.

Australia's top order have so far fired in unison with Tim Paine, Ponting and Mike Hussey leading the way for the team. However, opener Shane Watson's poor form will be a cause of worry for the Aussies.

Also the absence of middle order mainstay Michael Clarke, out of the tournament because of back injury, is likely to hurt the Australians as they fancy their chances of reaching the Champions Trophy final for the second time on the trot.

Clarke's ouster will give a chance to David Hussey to make himself counted and claim his spot back in the squad, especially with the ODI series against India round the corner.

Among the bowlers, Mitchell Johnson, Watson and comeback man Brett Lee have troubled the opponents with their swing and pace and in Nathan Hauritz they have a crafty spinner.

England, on the other hand, had an unbeaten run before New Zealand spoilt their party in their last match. Although skipper Andrew Strauss had blamed the bad pitch for the debacle, he will have to ensure their batting doesn't crumble again against the Aussies.

Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah have been the leading run scorers for England but skipper Strauss himself has not been among the runs. However, Ravi Bopara and youngsters Eoin Morgan have showed enough sparks.

Among the bowlers, Stuart Broad have claimed 10 wickets in the tournament so far to grab the second place in the most wicket-taker's list, while at the fourth place is his compartiot James Anderson with seven scalps.

However, England lacks a quality spinner as Graham Swann have so far looked a shadow of himself and skipper Strauss will hope he comes good specially if the centurion track gets slow and starts turning.

Teams: (from)

Australia: Ricky Ponting (c), David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger.

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (c), Shane Bond, Neil Broom, Ian Butler, Brendon Diamanti, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Gareth Hopkins, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, James Franklin, Jeetan Patel, Aaron Raymond, Ross Taylor, Daryl Tuffey.

Match starts at 6 pm IST.