ICC T20 World Cup, England v Australia: Old rivals aiming to get early upper hand

England captain Eoin Morgan has braced himself for another tough test against Australia, believing the old rivals are joint second favourites to go all the way at the T20 World Cup, behind India.

Bring on Australia: England's captain Eoin Morgan, right, congratulating bowler Tymal Mills after taking the wicket of Bangladesh's Mahedi Hasan. Picture: AP

Both sides sit on four points in their Super 12s group after starting their campaigns with two successive wins, and whoever prevails in Dubai tonight will take a massive stride towards sealing a semi-final place.

“It’s probably going to be one of our most difficult games,” said Morgan. “Australia are a very strong side – they’ve won two from two, much like us – and have started well.

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“Coming into the tournament, they would probably be considered joint second favourites, along with us. They’re a side that we know pretty well – we’ve played against them a lot over a number of years.”

England's Tom Curran Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA

Mark Wood required an injection to his left ankle last week and has been unavailable for the emphatic victories over the West Indies and Bangladesh, and it seems unlikely the express pace bowler will be risked today.

Seamer Tom Curran has also been absent from England’s opening two matches because of a knee injury and while he will probably miss out, too, Morgan was upbeat about the pair’s recoveries.

“They’re progressing really well,” he said. “From where we were before the first game, they’ve come on a long way.

“We’re going to make a call on that to see how training is and then we’ll make a call on them.”

Australia's Pat Cummins. Picture: Jason Cairnduff/PA

The International Cricket Council’s strict kit regulations during global tournaments have denied England the chance to wear their ‘Moment of Unity’ t-shirts carrying messages of all forms of anti-discrimination.

England launched the initiative in their home games over the summer, but during this tournament they have joined the West Indies and Bangladesh in taking the knee – opting for a reciprocal approach to the anti-racism gesture.

Morgan revealed taking a knee for the remainder of the tournament is something that will be discussed again.

Morgan added: “From our side of things, not being allowed to have our ‘Moment of Unity’ before the game is something we’ve talked about before the two games we’ve played.

“Later, we’re going to talk about it again, because if we’re not allowed to take our stance against all discriminations, we need to try to find something else that makes a difference.

“We can do (the ‘Moment of Unity’) in bilateral series both home and away. We’ll speak as a team and try and come up with something that we can do.”

Pat Cummins, meanwhile, is aiming to land an early blow on England ahead of this winter’s Ashes as well as help Australia take a massive stride towards reaching the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

With less than six weeks to go before the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Cummins is also eager to get one up on England.

Australia were hammered in the last World Cup showdown between the teams – with England winning by eight wickets en route to 50-over glory two years ago –but Cummins was insistent that meeting will have no bearing on this game.

“I don’t think so, it was a little while ago, different format,” he said. “It’s always huge. We play England a lot, I think the style of play is quite similar, we like to take the game on.

“They’ve been just about the form team in the last few years in white-ball cricket. It’s a huge game, we know these guys really well, we know it’s such a big game in the context of making those semi-finals.

“I’d say they’re probably one of four or five teams (who could win this tournament), it’s a format where you feel like anyone on their day could beat anyone else. They’re right up there in that top tier.

“I always enjoy coming up against England. There are a few players that will be coming out (to Australia) this summer from this side, so it will be great to get one on the board against them early.”

Australia strolled to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka and, ominously for England, David Warner showed flashes of his best form with 65 from 42 deliveries as he helped his side chase down 155 with 18 balls to spare.

It ended a run of low scores for Warner, who was dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad towards the end of the Indian Premier League, and Cummins believes his 35-year-old team-mate will be primed to face England.

“Davey’s a huge player for us, for the last decade he’s been huge for Australian cricket,” he said. “Like all the great players, there’s huge expectations he puts on himself.

“He’s his own harshest critic so it was great to see him get some runs. He’s a big-game player, he likes taking on the big teams. I’m sure (against England) you’ll see him puffing his chest out.