Australia remain confident of beating England in their make-or-break Champions Trophy clash at Edgbaston on Saturday, even if defeating the English weather has so far proved beyond them.
Steven Smith’s side endured the frustration of having Monday’s clash with Bangladesh abandoned due to rain, just days after their opening Group A fixture against New Zealand was also washed out.
On both occasions, it has been Australia who were batting in the early stages of their innings when bad weather ended play.
What made the Bangladesh washout at the Oval especially tough to take was that Australia had reached 83 for one in pursuit of 183 to win and required only four more overs to be bowled to ensure they would take maximum points via the Duckworth-Lewis rule used in rain-affected matches.
With two points from their two matches, Australia now have to beat England to be certain of a place in the semi-finals of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day intentional teams.
“I think it makes the equation pretty simple for us,” said Smith, whose side suffered an Edgbaston defeat by England during the last Champions Trophy four years ago.
“We have to beat England and then I think we’re through. I haven’t really read into anything else that’s happened.”
Smith’s powerful top order have spent precious little time in the middle this tournament but the skipper said: “You know, most of the guys have been playing a lot of cricket, anyway, having been at the IPL (Indian Premier League) and things like that.
“I think once they get out in the middle, things will just click into place, and yeah, hopefully we can play well in Birmingham,” added Smith of a line-up where the big-hitting Chris Lynn, fresh from his IPL exploits, could be recalled.
Australia’s pacemen, led by Mitchell Starc, have started to find their form and they would love nothing more than a go at the old enemy this weekend.
England, by contrast, have managed to dodge the bad weather sufficiently to beat both Bangladesh and New Zealand in convincing fashion to book their semi-final spot regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
But captain Eoin Morgan wants no let-up against World Cup champions Australia as England go in search of their first major International Cricket Council 50-over title.
“I think if we’re truly going to be contenders for this tournament, we need to beat the best teams — and Australia are one of the best teams,” he said.
“They always are going into a white-ball tournament. They seem to produce limited-overs cricketers at will,” added the ex-Ireland batsman.
“So to go into a game like that with no other attitude than winning is very important to us.”