Steve Smith: The premier Australian batsman had missed the first two ODIs after being hit on the helmet during a practice session.

During the third ODI of the ongoing Australia’s tour of England in Manchester, England have won the toss and have opted to bat first in the series decider.

What makes this contest a riveting encounter is that Australia haven’t beaten England in an ODI series since 2015 and England haven’t lost an ODI series at home in the last few years.

England captain Eoin Morgan, who had opted to bat in the last match as well, announced a solitary change in the form of fast bowler Mark Wood returning in place of all-rounder Sam Curran.

“We think it’s a good wicket, short boundary on one side. Sam [Curran] is extremely good, young, versatile all-rounder, hard to take. It’s important to continue building towards the next World Cup.

“We are playing against a really strong Australian side. Our thanks go out to all teams who came over here, a leap of faith, and the structure and planning from the ECB,” Morgan was quoted as saying during the toss.

Is Steve Smith playing today’s third ODI between England and Australia?

Coming on the back of a batting collapse in a match which they should’ve ideally won, Australia captain Aaron Finch expressed his longing to bat first today. Despite losing the previous match, Australia will field the same Playing XI at the Old Trafford.

The development means that the visitors will continue to bench their premier batsman in Steve Smith. Smith, who had been hit on the helmet in the nets before the first ODI, was rested in the first two ODIs as a precautionary measure.

Smith, who batted in the nets on the eve of the third ODI, didn’t seem to have impressed the team management with respect to his fitness and game. “He [Steve Smith] had a long hit and didn’t pull up well, just a bit groggy. We’ve been ultra-conservative and cautious,” Finch said about resting Smith for the third time in a row.

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