Australia have reached the semi-finals of the Cricket World cup, beating England by 64 runs at Lord’s to go top of the Cricket World Cup standings.
The disappointing defeat was England’s second in a row, their third in the competition, and leaves them clinging onto fourth spot in the table. The result comes after a surprise defeat to Sri Lanka four days earlier when chasing a modest total, and leaves serious questions over England’s ability to make the semi-finals.
Eoin Morgan’s side are just a point above Bangladesh in fifth and next up for England is the tricky task of beating India at Edgbaston in a must win game.
It was England who won the toss and decided to put Australia in to bat first, despite their two defeats so far coming from run chases.
Openers Aaron Finch and David Warner had started well but slowly, making 44 off the first ten overs, but Finch found himself with a slice of luck in the fifth over as James Vince dived to catch an outside edge at backward point, but couldn’t quite get the ball into his grasp and the Australian survived.
The openers were looking in good form, finding the boundary regularly as the 100 came up and soon after 50 for Finch, with the help of nine fours at that stage. Warner then followed suit with his own 50 and England knew they needed a wicket.
Finch struck a six, but just two balls later the home side had their first breakthrough. Warner was the man to walk from Moeen Ali’s delivery. The 32-year-old prodding the ball towards Joe Root who took that catch.
Usman Khawaja was the next man in and looked to continue where Warner left off. He was given a let-off after making just seven though, England’s wicket keeper Jos Butler missing a stumping that could have possibly shifted momentum in England’s favour.
But the 32-year-old would still be the next man to go. Australia were flying on 173-1 with the potential of posting a big score, but Ben Stokes bowled him with a 90 miles per hour ball and showed pure emotion at the capture of the wicket.
Former Baggy Greens’ captain Steve Smith was next up and was booed as he walked out to the middle. Before the game England captain Eoin Morgan said he wouldn’t try to stop any booing from the crowd - from the noise, it didn’t feel like he would have any chance even if he did try.
But it all began to fall apart for the batting side from here. Finch collected his century and was dismissed on the very next ball from a catch by Chris Woakes off the bowling of Jofra Archer.
Smith attempted to contribute with 38 runs but was guilty of running out Marcus Stonis for only one run, and was then booed again when dismissed himself. Australia lost three wickets in the space of six overs and six wickets for just 86 runs as they lost their way and ended their innings on 285-7, much less than they would have hoped for after the impressive start from Warner and Finch.
But after two failed run chases already in this tournament, England would certainly be nervous heading into this one, and that’s exactly how it appeared. The hosts got off to the worst possible start when after just the second ball, James Vince was sent packing. The ball sneaking between bat and pad, onto the stumps to make England’s reply 0/1.
And it didn’t get better from there. Joe Root was the next man in and hit a couple of nice boundaries but was then caught LBW off the bowling off Mitchell Starc. With just 3.3 overs gone England were 15/2.
Captain Morgan needed to steady the ship, but failed to do so. He lasted just seven balls, hitting one four before Starc had another victim. Morgan hitting a top edge into the hands of Pat Cummins who made no mistake with the catch. The perfect start for Australia.
After ten overs, England were only five runs behind Australia at the same stage and knew if they could build from here then they were still in a chance of victory.
The loss of Jonny Bairstow didn’t help matters, but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes began to build a partnership to leave England with hope. Stokes made his 50 from 70 balls, slow progress but progress nonetheless.
England had managed to stick near the required run rate but Jos Buttler couldn’t stick with Stokes who had hit a couple of big sixes. The 28-year-old was caught on the boundary looking to hit a six off a short ball. The chasing side needed someone to stay with Stokes.
But it was the all-rounder who was next to go. On 89 runs Stokes was bowled by Starc, knocking the stumps over, and ending any chances England had of victory, with the run rate increasing and the hosts unable to stick with it. The score 177-6
With the loss of four other quick wickets in just eight overs Australia claimed a deserved victory thanks to some quality bowling and top the group going into their next match with New Zealand.
England need some big results in their next few games. India come next and they may have to win their remaining games to stand a chance of making the top four.
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