Eoin Morgan refuted Kevin Pietersen’s opinion that the England captain had ‘looked scared’ while facing Mitchell Starc in his side’s Cricket World Cup loss to Australia on Tuesday.
Former England batsman Pietersen made his claim on Twitter, adding: “I’ve not seen a captain show such a weakness for a while.”
Asked at the post-match news conference whether he had feared the Aussie fast bowler, Morgan said: “No. No. I didn’t feel like that way at all.”
Morgan managed just four runs in the match at Lord’s though, falling to Starc, and England lost the match by 64 runs to put their hopes of reaching the semi-finals in doubt.
Watch his reaction above:
Ben Stokes says his own impressive form with the bat “counts for nothing” unless England put their ailing World Cup campaign back on track.
The hosts and pre-tournament favourites suffered their third defeat in seven games as Australia sealed their semi-final spot with a 64-run win at Lord’s.
All of their setbacks have come when chasing, a facet of the game that had become the team’s calling card on their road to topping the world rankings.
Only Stokes has performed close to his best in the past two pursuits, following an unbeaten 82 against Sri Lanka with a battling 89 in England’s 221 all out against the Australians.
It took a near unplayable inswinging yorker from Mitchell Starc to end his lone stand on Tuesday and Stokes’ reaction spoke volumes – dropping his bat, hoofing it in frustration and then shaking his head as he exited the stage.
The all-rounder would be forgiven for taking the positives from his first back-to-back half-centuries since early 2017 but he is focused on the task at hand: doing enough against India and New Zealand in the next two games to reach the knockout phase.
“It always feels nice getting runs and stuff like that, but it counts for nothing when you can’t get over the line,” he said.
“It’s just disappointing, losing again. Everyone tries to go out there and play knocks to get over the line for the team. Normally we have two or three guys in the order who can do that.
“We have to really dig deep in these last couple of games. It won’t look like it when we’ve been bowled out quite cheaply in the last two games but we are a very, very confident team in terms of our batting line-up and these last two games aren’t going to knock our confidence at all.”
Sunday’s meeting with India at Edgbaston promises to be a marquee occasion but with plenty of ‘away’ support expected from Birmingham’s Asian community.
Home advantage has not even extended to the pitches on show in the event so far, with slower, stickier pitches than England typically prefer
“We’ve got a great record against India in England, but we’ll just have to wait and see what conditions we’re faced with,” admitted Stokes.
“It could be completely different conditions to what we faced here at Lord’s. We know what we are going to do going in with our plans and then it’s all about adjusting once the game starts. But they are another team who are in good form, so hopefully we can bring our best game.”
Hopes are high that Jason Roy will be back in action by then, having missed the last three games with a torn hamstring.
He was in prime form when injury struck whereas his replacement, James Vince, has managed just 40 runs in three innings
“Obviously losing a player of Jason’s class is tough,” said Stokes.
“He’s a world-class player and obviously we do miss him at the top.
“In terms of James Vince coming in…he is a phenomenal player, we’ve seen it day in day out in first-class cricket, but it’s a tough place to be when you are on the fringes and then all of a sudden someone gets injured.”
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England opener Jason Roy will be given until the last moment to prove his fitness for Sunday’s crucial World Cup showdown with India.
Roy is working his way back from a hamstring tear which has forced him to miss the games against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, but is being assessed on a daily basis ahead of the Edgbaston encounter.
An ECB spokesman said: “Jason Roy is making good progress from his hamstring injury. He is being assessed every day. Yesterday he batted in the nets and was also running shuttles on the outfield.
“A decision on whether he’ll be fit to resume against India will be made when we train on Friday and Saturday at Edgbaston.”
Roy is one of a series of fitness concerns with the hosts facing a fight to make the semi-finals after back-to-back defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid came into the tournament with a shoulder problem and reported soreness after Tuesday’s defeat by Australia, although he is not thought to be a doubt for the weekend.
The spokesman said: “Adil Rashid has some soreness to his right shoulder. He will be assessed over the next few days but he is expected to be available for selection on Sunday.”
England also have a concern over paceman Jofra Archer, but all-rounder Ben Stokes, who underwent treatment for a calf problem on the pitch at Lord’s, will be available.
The spokesman continued: “Jofra Archer has tightness to his left side and will continue to be assessed ahead of the India match.
“Ben Stokes sustained tight calves in yesterday’s match. He will be fit for Sunday’s match. He felt better after the game.”
Jonny Bairstow believes his opening partner Roy is “raring to go”.
He added to Sky Sports News: “Naturally he is frustrated. It’s never ideal to pick an injury up but to pick one up in the middle of a World Cup is definitely frustrating for him. He has been working hard to get back fit to be available for selection.”
Bairstow has not written off England’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals, with big games against India and New Zealand left in the group stage.
He added: “To lose at Lord’s is desperately disappointing. We bowled well to restrict them to that score and it was chaseable but lost early wickets which made it very difficult.
“There is no panic stations. We have played India before and been very successful against them, likewise with New Zealand, so we are looking forward to the next two games.
“If we do well in them we effectively have four must-win games all the way through to the end of the tournament. That’s really exciting.”
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