England’s best batsman is hunting for some form while Australia is looking for consistency from their young stars.

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A brilliant bowling effort saw hosts England defend a modest total of 231 against Australia, who were bundled out for 207 in the second ODI of their ongoing three-match series.

The two teams will now play in a decider on Wednesday, September 15 at 5:30 pm at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, England. We pick out two players from each side to watch out for in this winner-takes-all match:

Joe Root

Since his stretch of four half-centuries and two centuries in seven matches in 2019, Joe Root has hit a bit of a snag in ODI cricket.

The England Test captain has failed to score a half-century in nine straight innings. If he fails to score atleast 50 in the third ODI, it will be the longest stretch in his career without a half-century, surpassing the nine-match run that he had at the tail end of 2013 and at the start of 2014. With an average of over 50 in ODIs, Root is among the finest batsmen in the format. With Jonny Bairstow struggling for form, England need their talisman to deliver with the bat and the third ODI could be the perfect opportunity for him to end his lean spell.

Marnus Labuschagne

He may have played just eight innings so far in his nascent ODI career, but Marnus Labuschagne is one of Australia’s foremost batsmen. Averaging just a shade under 47, Labuschagne has scored two half-centuries and a ton in his eight innings so far. The 26-year-old played an assured knock of 48 before being dismissed in the second ODI, and his departure caused a collapse that the visitors failed to recover from.

Tom Curran

All-rounder Tom Curran was sensational in the second ODI with the ball as well as the bat. He came in to bat with England reeling at 143/7 before being reduced to 149/8 in the 41st over. Curran scored 37 off 39 runs and forged a 76-run partnership for the ninth wicket alongside Adil Rashid that helped England reach a fairly competitive and eventually match-winning total of 231.

Curran was tremendous with the ball, giving away just 28 runs in his quota of 10 overs, curbing the scoring rate and helping England defend the total. Curran’s improved form came in clutch for the home side in the second ODI and the hosts will be hopeful of a repeat performance in the decider.

Alex Carey

Wicketkeeper batsmen Alex Carey waged a lone battle at the end for Australia and tried his best to guide the home side to victory. But with wickets crumbling at an alarming rate, there was little Carey could do to help his side.

Despite the loss, it was an encouraging showing from the batsman who has now gone nine games without a half-century to his name. But, that wouldn’t concern Australia given how loaded the top of the order is. They would, however, rely on Carey to give them a power-packed finish at the end or anchor the tail in a chase, which he himself has admitted to wanting to do.

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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Glyn Kirk