SOUTHAMPTON-England have already sealed a series win, but both sides will be gunning for victory in the third and final T20I, with the winner poised to claim the top spot in the ICC Rankings.

Jos Buttler lit up the second T20I with an unbeaten 77*, but England will have to manage without him in the final game of the series. Despite having secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, the hosts still have plenty to play for. A win will send them to the top of the ICC T20I Team Rankings, having begun the series in second place behind Australia. 

Australia, meanwhile, will be seeking their first win of the tour as a way to build momentum heading into the ODI series, as well as to hold on to the No.1 spot they claimed back in May. Questions remain in the middle order for both sides, with the majority of England’s runs in the last match coming from the top three in the form of Buttler and Dawid Malan – although Moeen Ali helped finish off the game with an unbeaten cameo. Australia’s middle-order has also struggled to make the most of their starts.

England will be forced to make at least one change, with Sam Billings likely to come into the side at No.6 to replace Buttler and Tom Banton moving up the order to fill the vacancy at the top. Australia may well stick with an unchanged side, though they do have options should they want to give some experience to youngsters such as Riley Meredith or Josh Phillipe.

After early wicket, Australia recovered enough to post a competitive-looking total of 157/7 thanks to contributions from Aaron Finch (40), Marcus Stoinis (35), Glenn Maxwell (26), Ashton Agar (23) and Pat Cummins (13* from 5). Buttler and Malan kept England on track with an 87-run partnership before a couple of late wickets threatened to derail the chase. But Moeen smacked a 6-ball 13* to ensure that the hosts didn’t repeat Australia’s mistakes from the first match. England ended up winning with more than an over to spare.

England’s Dawid Malan said: “Eoin [Morgan] always speaks about the way he wants us to play, and as long as we keep playing the way he wants us to play against a specific opposition I think we’re happy with that. But to be [in the position], if we do manage to win tomorrow and to put the Aussies under more pressure, it will be fantastic to finish No.1.”

Australia’s Ashton Agar said: “There is never leeway in international cricket, however, there has been a lot more positives that have come out of [the series] than negatives. That first game, to bowl the way we did on a pretty good pitch and start so well with the bat and get two runs away from winning is a massive positive.”


ENGLAND: Tom Banton, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, Moeen Ali (capt), Sam Curran/Joe Denly, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood. 

AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Aaron Finch (capt), Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson/Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.