England v Australia - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
England v Australia - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

How Australia may have doomed England’s WC dream

England are a cricket powerhouse, hosting the World Cup and had all the form heading into the tournament but now face the real possibility of not even making the finals. We detail the precarious situation in which Australia has placed the old enemy.

Their chances of making the semi-finals - something that seemed a certainty a week ago - now potentially hinges on the Kiwis doing them a favour by beating Pakistan.

This tournament was supposed to be the crowning glory of a four-year ascent to the top of the world rankings for the World Cup hosts, but now the party could potentially end early.

The stakes for Eoin Morgan's faltering side are that high.

Australia's victory over England has moved them top of the World Cup ladder and with a guaranteed place in the semi-finals. It seems inconceivable that New Zealand and India won't join them there.

While one series of results means England could technically qualify without winning another match, should Pakistan (3), Bangladesh (2) or Sri Lanka (3) win their remaining fixtures, England would need to hand a first defeat to both India and New Zealand in their final two matches to make the cut.

A Pakistan upset tonight would move them to seven points, just a single point behind England, with two to play, and with a match against Afghanistan up next they might be expected to win.

Pakistan round out their fixtures with a potentially decisive meeting with Bangladesh, who themselves are still in the mix.

Another loss for England would allow Pakistan to overtake them with three victories and Bangladesh two consecutive wins. For Bangladesh to overtake England they would need to beat India before seeing off Pakistan. The former result would admittedly be a major shock.

Sri Lanka are not out of it completely, though would need to beat South Africa and West Indies to haul themselves up to 10 points, then hope India lack motivation when they meet on the final day of the group stages.

But it is Pakistan, an enigma of a team capable of putting England to the sword and capitulating to West Indies in consecutive fixtures, who shape as the most likely to upset the host nation's best laid plans.

That, of course, relies on them beating New Zealand. Something no team has managed yet. But their Champions Trophy win two years ago, also in England, cautions against writing Pakistan off.

It will all make for a second night of uncomfortable viewing for players and fans of the team that entered the tournament as stand out favourites and now find themselves potentially relying on others - unless of course they prove their worth in their final two matches.

"We're not feeling the pressure of being favourites," Morgan said after the Australia defeat, though his manner betrayed his words slightly.

As the post mortem on the Lord's defeat begins the pressure Morgan claims not to be feeling will only intensify.

"We are in charge of how we go from here on in. We win two games, we definitely go through."

Easier said than done.

News Corp Australia


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