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Improvement Needed From Both Down Under

The opening game at the MCG was the final throw of the dice to answer any selection queries before finalising World Cup squads.

While the announcements have now been made, both teams can now shift their focus to the series at hand, and look to streamline some form of momentum leading into next month’s ODI finale.

Both sides will have to alter their tactics slightly because of injuries, with England seeking an improvement in its batting line-up, which fell 20 runs short in Melbourne and failed to take advantage of its batting Powerplay.

Michael Clarke, Australian ODI captain, will be feeling the momentum is with the reigning world champions after their six-wicket success in the opening clash, however he knows the home side also has room for improvement.

"Our bowling and our fielding for the first 30 overs of the game was as bad as I've seen and played in," Clarke said. "The whole team is aware of that. But as a batting unit, I thought we went about it the right way."

Shane Watson's brilliant unbeaten 161 in Melbourne gave Australia a 1-0 series lead, but the reality is that apart from Watson's innings, the rest of Australia's performance was mediocre at best.

Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Cameron White, 5 David Hussey, 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Doug Bollinger, 11 Shaun Tait.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Matt Prior (wk), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Michael Yardy, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Chris Tremlett, 11 Ajmal Shahzad.

The player to watch in this humdinger is Nathan Hauritz.

The off-spinner has been the main subject debate all summer. Few could understand why he had been left out of the Test side, and his standing improved further with the disastrous experiments with both Doherty and Beer.

Australiawill need to be assured that its main spin option for the World Cup is in good form, and has not been too severely damaged by his treatment over the last couple of months.

For England, the surprise selection of Matt Prior, over ODI specialist Steve Davies, means the spotlight for once shifts off the England middle-order.

It is a bold move by the England selectors, driven by Flower and Strauss, however Prior's phenomenal form in the Ashes, with both gloves and bat will now have to translate into the 50-over format.

Both teams have been hit by fitness concerns, with Michael Hussey at home in Perth after undergoing surgery on a serious hamstring injury he picked at the MCG.

The home XI is also without Mitchell Johnson, who has a throat infection.

These two historical rivals have only ever met once before at Bellerive Oval, back in 2002/03, when Australia won by seven runs.

The home side have the advantage at the bookies as odds-on, although some absentees might see this looking a lot tighter than it suggests.

Strauss and Pietersen are favoured to top score for the visitors, while an in-form Shane Watson takes the honours for Australia.

This is a tight one to call, however England look the more settled unit here, and their top order should carry this one home.

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