LONDON – England really are proving to be the most hospitable of hosts.
Having already surprisingly lost to Sri Lanka last week to open up the World Cup, Eoin Morgan’s team swung the door even wider with a crushing 64-run defeat to arch-rivals Australia at Lord’s yesterday.
England remain in fourth place - the last semi-final position - with eight points from seven matches, but now have Bangladesh (7 points), Sri Lanka (6), Pakistan (5) and the even the West Indies (3) all breathing down their necks. To compound matters, England’s remaining matches are against India and New Zealand, who are both above them on the standings.
In contrast, the Australians are marching on with that same swagger that came naturally before all the Sandpapergate hoopla.
They were, of course, reminded of their ugly past yesterday when even the loyal patrons of Lord’s greeted former captain Steve Smith with a chorus of boos as he strode out of the Members’ Pavilion.
It seems that all the emotional drama of the past year has brought the Australian team closer together, as they became the first side to qualify for the semi-finals.
Yesterday, the batting department was led by captain Aaron Finch, who struck a superb century, while fellow opener David Warner contributed 53 off 61 balls. Australia’s dominance in the tournament so far is perfectly reflected by Warner sitting atop the leading run-scorers list with 500 runs and Finch just four runs adrift in second place.
Mitchell Starc tops the wicket-takers list with 19 scalps after his vicious in-swinging yorkers earned him 4/43 yesterday. Starc, though, was ably supported by his new-ball partner Jason Behrendorff, who finished with a maiden five-for as nine of England’s wickets fell to the pair of southpaws.
Australia: 285/7 (Finch 100, Warner 53, Woakes 2/56)
England: 221 all out (Stokes 86, Behrendorff 5/44, Starc 4/43)
Australia win by 64 runs@ZaahierAdams