Moments after Bangladesh scored 333/8 against Australia in their World Cup encounter, former England skipper Kevin Pietersen took to Twitter to announce that the Aussies should go home and prepare for the Ashes and the 2019 World Cup trophy should be handed to England. But a couple of games down the line, not only have Australia qualified for the semi-finals, but also England find themselves in a spot as they must win both their remaining games to qualify for the semis.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the Englishmen have flattered to deceive on the world stage. Apart from winning the ICC World T20 under Paul Collingwood in 2010, the England outfit has failed to win a single showpiece event. And while a lot was made of their resurrection under Eoin Morgan after the 2015 World Cup exit, it seems like the story is headed towards another ouster for England in the group stages.
Coming into the 2019 edition of the World Cup, England were considered favourites and all-rounder Ben Stokes had told IANS that the tag had been earned with consistent performances over the years. But with seven of the nine games done with, the picture doesn’t look too bright for the Three Lions.
While they started off with a brilliant 104-run win over South Africa in the tournament opener, they were handed a blow by Pakistan in their very next game. The mercurial side led by Sarfaraz Ahmed beat the hosts by 14 runs in a thriller.
Morgan’s men came back strongly in the next three games as they beat Bangladesh by 106 runs, West Indies by 8 wickets and Afghanistan by 150 runs.
But that is where the fortune took another turn as they lost to out of touch Sri Lanka by 20 runs. Chasing Sri Lanka’s score of 232/9, all England could manage was 212 as Lasith Malinga bowled brilliantly to take the Island Nation home.
The loss saw England faced with a situation wherein they needed to win two of their three games against Australia, India and New Zealand. What also faced them was a past which showed that the English team hasn’t beaten these three teams in World Cup encounters in the last 27 years.
And the Australians ensured that they maintained their side of history as they beat England by 64 runs on Tuesday. A brilliant show from the Australia pace bowling duo of Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc saw them run through the much talked about English batting line-up. They now have two games — against India and New Zealand — and must win both if they are to qualify.
Skipper Morgan did put up a brave face after the loss and said: “A lot of today, we were outplayed. Thought we bowled well upfront. Little bit unlucky as Australia played and missed a lot. They built a fantastic partnership. Wicket got a little bit better, but still challenging. Wicket this morning was soft when we started. Choosing to bat would’ve been a horrific decision. Finch played really well, capitalized on the start he got. We pegged it back really well. For a long time it looked like they’d get 330. When you’re 20/3, it pegs you back substantially. Given the circumstances, it’s not hugely disappointing. Our fate is in our own hands. Everything we need to turn around is simple. Won’t search for anything that’s not there.”