Cricket’s oldest rivalry is set to be renewed again when hosts England and Australia lock horns in a pivotal 2019 ICC World Cup clash at Lord’s on Tuesday.
There is the matter of an impending Ashes series to settle between the two arch-rivals in a couple of months. But there is also a lot at stake for both of them in their most immediate battle at the iconic cricket ground in London.
Defending champions Australia have one foot virtually in the semi-finals after an impressive campaign that has seen them win five of their six clashes.
Hosts England, on the other hand, have already suffered two losses in six games and come into the clash on the back of a shocking upset at the hands of Sri Lanka.
ENGLAND’S TITLE CREDENTIALS ON THE LINE
Eoin Morgan’s men were the overwhelming favourites for the World Cup before the start of the tournament, but their title credentials have taken a big beating lately.
While the hosts have still racked up the mammoth totals from time to time, their losses against Pakistan and Sri Lanka have exposed a few vulnerabilities which other top teams will be looking to exploit.
The latest loss to Sri Lanka has turned what looked like a straightforward path to the semi-final into a precarious one for Morgan and his men. England might need to win two of their three remaining games to ensure a spot in the semi-final but that certainly won’t be an easy prospect.
Their record against their final three opponents – Australia, New Zealand and India – is not the most flattering with zero World Cup wins to show against either of them since the 1992 edition.
They are still favourites to make the top four, but they will know that each of the next three fixtures is a potential banana skin. The fact that opener Jason Roy has missed the last two clashes due to a hamstring injury has not helped matters and the right-hander has been confirmed to miss the Australia fixture as well.
AUSSIES LOOK TO OVERTURN RECENT ENGLAND DOMINATION
England and India were been seen as the clear favourites before the start of the tournament, but Aaron Finch and his Men have gone on to show that Australia can never be discounted in a World Cup.
The five-time champions have exceeded expectations so far with a loss against India being the only aberration in a fine campaign. The Aussie could all but seal semi-final qualification with victory on Tuesday and derailing their arch-rival’s campaign will be added incentive for them at Lord’s.
They will also want to overturn their recent ODI domination at the hands of England that has seen them lose nine out of the last 10 fixtures between the two sides. Finch’s men were even whitewashed 5-0 in an ODI series in England last year and those wounds will still be fresh when they take the field on Tuesday.
A lot has changed for the Aussies since that series rout with the team winning 13 out of their 14 most recent ODI encounters and that should give them the confidence to tackle the hosts’ firepower at Lord’s.
England: James Vince, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.
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