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England set for fiery date with Australia

By The Assam Tribune

MELBOURNE, Feb 13 (Agencies): A full house crowd in excess of 90,000 is expected at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to see these old enemies start their World Cup campaigns.

Most will be expecting a Valentine's Day massacre. With Australia having won all three of the ODIs between the sides in the preceding tri-series, there is a sense not so much of two teams battling it out as much as one team being thrown to the lions.

You can see why. Australia have won 11 of their last 12 ODIs - including a 4-1 victory over highly-rated South Africa; they have a battling line-up that extends beyond the horizon - their likely No. 10 here, Mitchell Starc, has scored 99 in a Test Match - and a battery of bowlers that contains, arguably, the three quickest seamers in the tournament in Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins and Starc.

Perhaps that expectation may weigh heavy on their shoulders, but they are rated No.1 in the ICC ODI table for a reason. Their batsmen can tear apart any attack and they have two men in the top 10 of the bowling rankings. Playing in conditions in which they are familiar and suit them, and cheered on by a home crowd, they remain strong favourites for this match and the tournament.

England, meanwhile, are unburdened by expectation. Having recently changed their captain, not won an ODI series for almost a year and failed to reach the semifinals of the World Cup since 1992, little is expected of them. Their recent record against Australia in Australia - they have lost 13 of the last 15 ODIs - provides further evidence towards the same conclusion.

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