WORLD CUP: Australia through to semi-final; England sweating
England’s World Cup hopes hang in the balance after a demoralising defeat by Australia at Lord’s. The 64-run loss means they could need to win their last two games, beginning with India at Edgbaston on Sunday, in order to make the last four.
Much will depend on the results of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, who can all overhaul Eoin Morgan’s men.
The hosts began the tournament as favourites, but now have little margin for error, with this loss following Friday’s shock reverse to Sri Lanka to make a total of three defeats in six games.
They actually did well to restrict Australia to 285-7, especially after captain Aaron Finch’s century helped his team to 173-1.
However, that target was always going to be a challenge against the dangerous Australia attack in conditions ideally suited to pace bowling.
So it proved. The heart was ripped out of England’s top order and, at 53-4, their chase was in tatters.
Just as he did against Sri Lanka, Ben Stokes played a virtually lone hand for 89, but after he was bowled by a searing Mitchell Starc yorker, England subsided to 221 all out.
Now they face the prospect of having to beat at least one, maybe both, of India and New Zealand – two unbeaten and highly impressive sides.
England wilt in Lord’s pressure cooker
A meeting between cricket’s oldest rivals, on its grandest stage and with the World Cup jeopardy feeling very real, all contributed to a supercharged atmosphere.
Indeed, almost a month after it started, this felt like the day the tournament really began.
For England, overcome by the tension of it all, it may be one step closer to the end.
Might they rue the decision to field first? Given the conditions, it was entirely understandable, but the suspicion remained Australia would be less comfortable chasing, in addition to the fact that England’s two prior defeats had also come batting second.
Yes, Chris Woakes had no luck with the new ball, but Jofra Archer and Mark Wood struggled with their lengths, even if both men played their part in England’s admirable fightback.
However, they were later given a lesson in the benefits of a full length by the Australians, who removed James Vince and Joe Root with swing and were gifted the wickets of Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow, both caught on the pull.
In the end, it was like England’s 50-over dominance of the past four years had never happened, and usual service against Australia, whom they have not beaten in the World Cup since 1992, had resumed.
All this amidst the backdrop of an Ashes series, which England are in danger of having extra time to prepare for. (BBC Sport)