A lot has changed with Australia’s ODI fortunes over the past one year as the defending ICC World Cup champions get ready to lock horns with hosts and arch-rivals England in a crunch clash at Lord’s on Tuesday.
The Aussies were comprehensively dominated by England in ODIs last year with Eoin Morgan’s men winning nine out of the 10 meetings. They first thrashed Australia by 4-1 Down Under at the start of 2018 before whitewashing them by 5-0 in the home series a few months later.
However, Aaron Finch and his men have turned things around in style ever since with the side having clinched victory in 13 out of their last 14 ODI outings.
The Australian skipper believes the side has evolved drastically since those losses to England and will be a much different beast when they take the field against the hosts on Tuesday.
“We tried last year to beat them at their own game and it wasn’t very successful,” Finch said on the eve of the clash.
“We came up pretty short in that series. That was having quite an inexperienced group at the time, there was a lot of change in the one-day side at the time.
“When you’ve got an inexperienced group, it can hit them a bit harder. It’s tough to play someone else’s game – you have to be true to your game plan and what your style is.”
Australia have tasted just the sole defeat in the tournament against India so far with five wins out of six matches. England, on the other hand, have not had it all their way with the hosts suffering two shock defeats already in their campaign.
The latest came in a shock 20-run upset at the hands of Sri Lanka where they failed to chase down a target of 233 runs. Finch, however, is refusing to read too much into England’s loss against Sri Lanka.
“When you look at England over the last four years, they’ve been bloody consistent, so you can’t read a huge amount into it,” he said.
“What we’ve talked about the whole tournament is if you let your guard down, or your mind slip a bit too far forward, any team can beat you on the day,” the Aussie skipper added.
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Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has warned that his side are still ‘alive and kicking’ in the 2019 ICC World Cup following their 49-run win over South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday.
The win over the Proteas means that Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-final remain alive although it won’t be easy for Sarfraz Ahmed and his men. The Men in Green will need to win all three of their remaining fixtures and then hope some other results go their way as well to stand any chance of making the top-four.
Arthur, however, is confident that a run of three straight wins will see Pakistan qualify for the semi-final.
“We are alive and kicking, without a doubt,” the Pakistan coach stated after the win over South Africa.
“Yes, we are banking on other teams doing us a favour. When we play our best game, we can beat anybody. Whether that’s New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, our remaining games, or England, we showed.
“We put our three disciplines together, we are as good as any team in this competition. We are very firmly in the World Cup. We win our next three games, we’ll qualify.”
While Pakistan were excellent with the bat and ball in their victory over South Africa, their fielding left plenty to be desired with as many as five catches dropped in the outfield.
Arthur believes Pakistan can be a force to be reckoned with in the World Cup if it can iron out its deficiencies in the field.
“Our problem is we haven’t put three disciplines together yet in any game,” said Arthur.
“We bowled well; we batted well; we didn’t field well. So, when we put three disciplines together, we’ll be exceptional.
“The closest we’ve got was when we beat England.”
Sunday’s win has lifted Pakistan to seventh spot in the table with five points from six outings. They will next take on neighbours Afghanistan in another must-win clash on June 29 at Headingley in Leeds.
Bangladesh look to keep their slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Cricket World Cup alive against Afghanistan.
Despite amassing their highest one-day international total of 333 for eight last Thursday, Bangladesh suffered their third defeat of the tournament when they were beaten by 48 runs against Australia at Trent Bridge.
Their prospects of a semi-final place are hanging in the balance, and even winning their final three group stage matches – starting against Afghanistan at the Hampshire Bowl today – may not be enough as they will have to rely on results from elsewhere.
Afghanistan have won the toss and elected to field.
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