Australia has won six games against England in World Cups, which is the most by any team against Eoin Morgan's side. (Image credit: Getty Images)
In Australia’s previous tour to England in 2018, they were whitewashed 5-0 and lost the one-off Twenty20 International. In that horror series, they had conceded 481 in Trent Bridge which was the highest total ever. Heading into Lord’s on a green and seaming deck with overcast conditions, it looked like Australia’s nightmare against England would be prolonged. However, the World Cup brings out a different beast in Australia. In a clinical display of batting and bowling, the five-time champions turned the tables. Aaron Finch blasted his seventh ton against England and Jason Behrendorff’s maiden five-wicket haul, combined with Mitchell Starc’s 4/43 helped Australia beat England by 64 runs at Lord’s on Tuesday and become the first team to seal their spot in the semi-finals.
The win was Australia’s sixth in eight encounters against England and it prolonged the hosts’ agony of not winning against the five-time champions in this tournament, having last won in 1992. For England, their second consecutive loss dents their semi-final prospects immensely with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan all having a chance.
The base for Australia’s victory was built by Finch, who had scores of 36,82,153 and 53 in the previous games. Finch found an able ally in David Warner and the duo tackled the conditions brilliantly. After surviving testing over of swing and seam from both Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer, both stitched together their fifth consecutive fifty-plus opening stand. Both Warner and Finch grew in confidence and in the 18th over, Adil Rashid was smashed for a couple of boundaries as the partnership crossed 100.
Both Warner and Finch reached their fifties but Moeen Ali got rid of Warner for 53. Finch progressed to his 100 with a couple of sixes and was given good support from Usman Khawaja. However, Ben Stokes got rid of Khawaja and Steve Smith entered. The right-hander was greeted by a chorus of boos while the crowd had not applauded Warner’s fifty, indicating the antagonism exhibited by the England crowd due to the duo’s involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in Newlands in 2018.
Finch notched up his 15th ton by tucking Archer to the leg side for a couple but fell immediately as he top-edged a short ball. The wicket of Finch cost Australia some momentum in the death overs, with Glenn Maxwell hitting some lusty blows before falling cheaply. Australia’s total of 285 owed a lot to Alex Carey as he struck some crucial boundaries to give the Australian bowlers momentum.
In response, Starc was at his absolute best and he was ably supported by Behrendorff, who struck second ball by removing James Vince. Starc trapped Joe Root LBW with an inswinger while Eoin Morgan top-edged a bouncer to fine leg. Jonny Bairstow looked to revive the England innings with some attractive fours but Behrendorff, bowling an extended spell, got a short ball to climb up and Bairstow miscued the pull to be caught close to the boundary at deep midwicket.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler combined and steadied the ship. Australia built the pressure while Stokes found the boundary on a regular basis. The partnership went past fifty but Marcus Stoinis got Buttler to pull a short ball to deep square leg where Khawaja took the catch near the ropes. With that wicket, Stokes changed gears and he launched Glenn Maxwell for two sixes and Cummins for two boundaries. However, the match was sealed in grand style when Stokes, batting on 89, was undone by an absolute brute of a yorker from Starc and he fell for 89.
Behrendorff came back and polished the tail as he ended with his maiden five-wicket haul and Australia sealed the win when Rashid sliced Starc to cover. The five-time champions have shown that past results do not matter and that in the World Cup, they definitely know when to raise their game. For England, their quest for a maiden World Cup title, that too a chance at home, is now slipping away slowly.