Australia will lean on a bit of local knowledge in a bid to seal their one-day international series against England with victory at Headingley.
Australia are on the cusp of taking an unassailable lead in the best-of-five series, but have hit road bumps in the past week in the form of a trio of injuries and then a crushing loss on Tuesday in Manchester.
The team travelled to Leeds on Wednesday and set about formulating a plan to wrest back momentum after England’s 93-run win in game three.
Coach Darren Lehmann called on Australia’s local link, Yorkshire duo Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, to address the group on what to expect from the Headingley pitch in Friday’s crucial game four.
“From all reports, it’s a little bit slow, a bit more thatchy grass on it than what Manchester had, a bit slower with the spin as well,” said fast bowler James Pattinson.
“Nothing changes – we’ve just got to try and bowl a little bit better early on, try and get a few wickets and stop them scoring at six an over like they have been.”
Headingley is also the home ground of England legspinner Adil Rashid, who has caused considerable trouble for Australia’s batsmen this series – taking a team-high seven wickets at 20.57 across the three ODIs.
Finch, who played a red-ball game at Headingley for Yorkshire’s second XI last week, said he was expecting a wicket which didn’t offer quite as much assistance for Rashid and his spin partner Moeen Ali.
But he reserved special praise for the pair after their strangulation of Australia’s middle order at Old Trafford, before admitting they needed to be targeted more at Headingley.
“They bowled exceptionally well,” Finch said.
“That was probably the misstep by us, that we didn’t look to take them on early in their spell and get them off length or off line and create bad balls.”
Pattinson conceded Australia needed to combat the effectiveness of James Taylor, the series-leading scorer with 193 runs and whose crucial century in Manchester paved the way for England’s big victory.
Australia have identified Taylor as the fulcrum of the England batting line-up, for his ability to play the steady role while the likes of Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan look to clear the fence.
“He’s a big wicket for us. If we can get him, it takes out the rock of their innings,” Pattinson said.
At the top of the order, Roy has hit two brisk half-centuries to give England a boost in the opening powerplay.
Pattinson accepts Australia have to change up their plans to curb his explosiveness in the opening overs.
“We’ve probably bowled a bit straight to him and not challenged him enough in the right areas,” he said.
“Hopefully, when we do that, we’ll see different results.”