It’s the showdown many have been waiting for – England v Australia 2019 World Cup semi-final.
Two of the best teams from the group stage will face off in Birmingham on Thursday for a spot in the Lord’s final against New Zealand. And going by what happened in the group stage between the two teams – where England lost to Australia by 64 runs – should have an epic pace.
Australia enter the semi-final on the back of a tense defeat to South Africa that saw them slip to second in the league stage and set up a semi-final clash with third-placed England instead of fourth-placed New Zealand.
Here we take a look at three key clashes that can have an impact on which team makes it to the final.
Jofra Archer v David Warner
The most explosive fast bowler of the tournament against a batsman in sizzling form with more than 600 runs under his belt in the tournament. If Archer has pace in abundance, then Warner has the form to get on top of not only the 24-year-old quick but also the English attack, as he did during a valiant knock of 122 against South Africa in a tense chase of 326.
If Archer can get Warner out, it will be a big chunk of the job done. But if the Aussie can somehow negotiate the initial spell, there will be runs to be had against the likes of Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid.
Joe Root v Mitchell Starc
England are a team filled with scintillating strokemakers. And the batsman holding it all together is Joe Root, who has quietly gone about his business to emerge as the top run-getter for England with 500 runs from nine matches. He has mastered the art of holding one end up and allowing the likes of Bairstow, Buttler and others to tee off from the other end.
It will be job of left-arm quick Mitchell Starc to find a way past Root. What will make the job tougher for Starc is the fact he had knee issues in the previous match. If he can fire on all cylinders on Thursday, England will have real battle on their hands. His yoker to Ben Stokes during Australia’s win in the group stage was arguably the ball of the tournament and he will want to produce more of those in Birmingham.
Jos Buttler v Alex Carey
Let's talk about Alex Carey's World Cup— Rohit Sankar (@imRohit_SN) July 10, 2019
🔸4th best avg in a WC by main WK.
🔸2nd best avg for Aus in WC 2019
🔸2nd most runs by main WK in this WC.
🔸Most dismissals in WC 2019 (19)
🔸2nd most dismissals ever in a WC by WK after Gilchrist's 21 in 2003.#CWC2019#cwc19#ENGvAUS
England gloveman Jos Buttler is a pioneer of the modern game. The strokes that he pulls off, no one else in the game can. While he has had a relatively quiet tournament with just a hundred and a fifty, he has the ability to bat the opposition out of the game in half an hour.
While Buttler’s audacious strokes make the headlines, Aussie keeper Carey is the one who has actually done a ‘Buttler’ this tournament, consistently keeping up the fight at number seven. His 85 against the Proteas in a losing cause was brilliant and the game won’t be over as long as Carey is at the crease. Without doubt, Australia’s find of the tournament.
New Zealand reached their second successive World Cup final after dramatically toppling India by 18 runs, Ravindra Jadeja’s swashbuckling 77 from 59 balls coming in a losing cause.
Star batsmen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had misfired at Old Trafford, India’s top three making just one apiece, as they lurched to 24 for four and then 92 for six chasing 240 on the reserve day of this semi-final.
Jadeja’s pyrotechnics gave India a fleeting hope but he departed with 32 required off 13 balls before Mahendra Singh Dhoni was run out for 50 from 72 deliveries as the Asian giants were skittled for 221 from 49.3 overs.
The Kiwis will therefore face England or Australia in Sunday’s showpiece at Lord’s after successfully defending 239 for eight, their watchful approach on Tuesday vindicated following India’s struggles.
Ross Taylor top-scored with 74 from 90 balls as the Black Caps added 28 runs in the remaining 3.5 overs of their innings, deferred until Wednesday morning because of persistent rain on Tuesday afternoon.
It is convention to give the player of the match award to someone from the winning side. Matt Henry was fantastic today but the performance of the match came from Ravindra Jadeja. He is my player of the match.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 10, 2019
India made an abject start to their reply, losing three wickets in the space of 11 balls, including the prize scalps of Rohit and Kohli, who had contributed in excess of 1,000 runs in the group stage.
Jadeja, batting for the first time in the tournament, put on a World Cup record 116 for the seventh wicket alongside the more subdued Dhoni, who was content to defer the big-hitting responsibilities to his junior partner.
Jadeja obliged, clubbing four fours and as many sixes, before holing out to long-off off Trent Boult and though Dhoni attempted to up the ante, the veteran was run out following a direct hit from Martin Guptill in the penultimate over as India’s hopes vanished.
Rohit needed 27 to set a new record for most runs at a single World Cup, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar’s 673 in 2003, but he lasted just four balls before feathering an edge behind after being squared up by Matt Henry.
Kohli was tentative and was soon back in the pavilion, Boult’s inswinger striking the India captain on the knee-roll of his front pad, a review showing the ball would have clipped the stop of the stumps.
India were teetering by this stage and their position worsened when they fell to a scarcely credible five for three, KL Rahul caught in two minds whether to play or leave and only edging to wicketkeeper Tom Latham off Henry.
Dinesh Karthik took 21 balls to get off the mark as a shell-shocked India looked to rebuild but he was on his way when Jimmy Neesham dived to his left to take a stunner inches off the ground at backward point, following a thick outside edge off Henry.
A position of 24 for four after 10 overs was the lowest off the first powerplay in the tournament, beating New Zealand’s score of 27 for one on Tuesday, tilting the balance firmly towards the Kiwis.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya are batsmen well known for their flair ahead of any stoicism. Lockie Ferguson saw chances off both go begging, Pant shelled by Neesham and Pandya miscuing into a vacant area on the leg-side ring.
The introduction of the metronomic Mitch Santner was telling and India had added only one run in 16 balls before Pant departed for 32 after wildly slugging the slow left armer to deep midwicket.
Santner had yielded just five runs in his first five overs before the pressure told on Pandya, also out for 32 after an uncontrolled swing across the line took a top-edge, which was pouched by Kane Williamson at midwicket.
India’s situation looked bleak but Jadeja showed no inclination to be cowed, hammering Neesham over long-on before later twice clearing the rope off Santer to leave India needing 81 from nine overs.
Jadeja, batting alongside the more defensive Dhoni, thumped Neesham through midwicket for four before bringing up a counter-attacking 39-ball fifty to the delight of the majority of those inside the ground.
However, with the asking rate skyrocketing, Jadeja took one risk too many, skying a Boult slower ball to Williamson before India lost their last four wickets for 11 balls.
New Zealand were restricted to just one four in the remaining 23 deliveries of their innings, Taylor run out by a direct hit from Jadeja, who took a stunning catch in the deep to account for Latham.
But some hard running in the closing stages of their innings ensured the Kiwis had enough on the board.
Proved by Press Association Sport
Eoin Morgan wants his England side to embrace the fact they are “living the dream” of a World Cup semi-final against Australia.
Occasions do not come much bigger for England cricketers – though a Lord’s final on Sunday would fit the bill should they win at Edgbaston – and the captain fully appreciates the scale of the opportunity.
“Sometimes I’m guilty of it, you can lose sight of the position you’re in and the fact you’re living your dream,” he said.
“I think it’s possible to play with a smile on your face tomorrow.”
Asked if his side were feeling excited, nervous or simply focused on the task at hand, he said: “All of those things. But I think excitement probably should be the dominant one.
“Everyone is excited to play this semi-final. The fact that through the group stages getting to this stage looked unlikely, or was called into question, makes it even more exciting for us.”
Morgan’s side have established a proud recent record against Australia, winning 10 of the last 11 one-day internationals between the old rivals prior to this tournament.
That counted for nothing in the group stages, when Australia claimed a 64-run win at Lord’s to nudge the hosts towards the brink.
Morgan admits England were not themselves in that match, knocked off course by a tame defeat to Sri Lanka, but feels they are now back to their best.
“We’re probably more confident than we were three games ago, we’re a different team,” he said.
“The loss against Sri Lanka hurt us. I don’t think we were playing anywhere near our best cricket, there was a hangover from the Sri Lanka game.
“It feels like we’re back to the team we are.”