England’s faltering World Cup campaign veered further off track as old rivals Australia booked their place in the semi-finals with a 64-run victory at Lord’s.
After misadventures against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, England ran aground when chasing for the third time in the tournament, dismissed for an error-strewn 221.
With India and New Zealand still to play, there is now minimal leeway if the world’s number one side are to reach the semi-finals of their own competition.
Australia captain Aaron Finch paved the way for his side’s win, weathering a tricky start after being sent in and making exactly 100, his second of the World Cup. Yet England rallied well with the ball, dragging the score back from 173 for one in the 32nd over to a more modest 285-7.
That still proved too much, though, Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc splitting the wickets as England’s top order limped to 53-4.
The left-arm pair finished with nine wickets between them, including Behrendorff’s maiden five-for.
Just as he did in a losing cause against Sri Lanka Ben Stokes stood tallest, battling apparent leg cramps on his way to a bullish 89, but he received precious little support as a much-vaunted batting line-up again fell short.
As anticipated Steve Smith and David Warner were booed to and from the crease on their first return to the home of cricket since year-long bans for ball-tampering, but that proved little more than a sideshow on a day that cranked up the pressure on Eoin Morgan’s men.
England skipper Morgan admitted his team were outplayed by a better outfit.
“We were outplayed,” Morgan said. “The wicket was soft when we started, so batting would have been a horrific decision. They dominated until the 25th but to restrict them to 280 was a good effort. But to be 20 for three pegged us back considerably.”
Morgan knows England need to beat India and New Zealand to qualify for the semis.
“Given the circumstances it’s not hugely disappointed, our fate is in our own hands. Everything we need to turn around is quite simple.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
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