Leading 2-0 in the five-match Ashes series, Australia would start favourites to wrap up a series win in the third Test at Perth beginning Thursday. England have an uphill task to pull things back after another off-field distraction. However, Perth has not been a happy hunting ground for Australia and England would look to cash in on this factor. Cricwizz takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams ahead of Australia vs England Perth Test on Thursday.
Batting superpower: The Australian skipper led from the front in the Brisbane Test, cracking a match-winning 141* in the first innings. Inspired from Smith’s show, Australian openers Cameron Bancroft and David Warner crack fifties in second innings to help Australia post 10-wicket win over England in the first Test. In the second Test, Shaun Marsh came to the party, scoring 126* in the first innings of Adelaide Test. Although Australia had an off-day in the second innings, they would not like to read much into it and like to start fresh in the Perth Test to win the series 3-0 there. Smith will again be the key for Australia in Perth Test.
Australia pace-trio: The Australian pace-trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took 28 wickets between themselves in the last two Tests. At home conditions, they are dangerous bowlers to play against. They would look to polish off the England line-up with another devastating show. Mitchell Marsh might come in and add the depth in batting and bowling with his all-round skills.
Complacency: Australia need to ward off complacency as visible in the second innings of Adelaide Test where they were bowled out for less than 150. It’s the bowling that saved the day for them in the Adelaide Test. Hence, Australia need to be on their toes throughout the match.
Joe Root: Like how Smith is vital for Australia’s success, similarly England skipper Joe Root’s form with the bat is crucial to their success in the Ashes. However, Root has not hit the stride so far, making just two fifties in 4 innings. However, Root has the knack of hitting big hundreds and he would look to lead from the front in the Perth Test especially when his team is 0-2 down in the series.
Broad-Anderson: The two are one of the best new-ball bowlers in Test cricket. Stuart Broad is just 7 wickets short of 400 wickets. He will look to do well. Anderson too needs to run through the batting order he is known for. The two will be all fired up especially with the series on line.
Batting order not clicking: Former England skipper Alastair Cook is not the same accumulator he was a couple of seasons ago. He will be playing his 150th Test at Perth and will look to do well. However, he has lost his consistency and he is vulnerable to the new ball. Most of the England batsmen are failing to covert good start into big innings. They will have to work on it in the Perth Test.
Prediction: Australia have the confidence and momentum going their way. They would look to wrap up the series in the third Test itself. But England would come hard at Australia as they are a good, fighting unit. But our vote goes to Australia as they have shown more hunger to win the series.
Possible winner: Australia