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World Cup Places On The Line

The final 15-man World Cup squads are to be named by Wednesday, which means that this opening game of the series will also act as a final shoot-out amongst those players on the cusp of selection.

The Twenty20 victory on Friday was a welcome change of fortune for the hosts with Australia pulling a long overdue win.

Judging by the host selectors, there are a few spots still up for grabs fro next month’s World Cup meaning that this clash will be of extreme importance for the likes of Xavier Doherty, Shaun Tait and David Hussey.

Strauss' men hold the psychological high-ground after their Ashes series domination, and also hold the bragging rights in the limited-overs game, having clinched a 3-2 series win in England last year.

Englandis a settled unit and will maintain continuity heading into the series opener.

James Anderson has been given a rest until the fourth ODI; however Chris Woakes has already shown his abilities on his Twenty20 debut.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss, 2 Steven Davies (wk), 3 Ian Bell, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Michael Yardy, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Chris Woakes, 11 Ajmal Shahzad.

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

The key man to watch for the hosts is Shane Watson. The all-rounder showed his class with bat and ball in the two T20Is and, conversions of fifties to hundreds aside, England will see him as a danger man once again.

Tait will be watched closely as Australia’s selectors begin to feel the heat of a demanding cricket watching public.

For the visitors, Ian Bell has transformed his game to become an extremely potent yet very graceful limited-overs player. A century in the recent game against the Australian Prime Minister's XI was a warning signal, and Bell is likely to be given more responsibility with a promotion up to number three in the batting line-up.

Once again, Eoin Morgan has cemented his standing as a match winner and one would imagine that he is a top pick to top score.

One man even more desperately in pursuit of form is Paul Collingwood. England's number-five batsman battled his way through the Test series as a specialist fielder and part-time bowler, but needs to come to the party now with the bat.

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