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AFP
July 11, 2019

England face acid test in semi-final clash with Australia

Sports

AFP
July 11, 2019

MANCHESTER: Four years of planning will be put on the line for England when they face holders Australia in a blockbuster World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday (today).

England’s woeful first-round exit at the 2015 edition prompted a complete rethink of their approach to One-day Internationals (ODIs) for a side that had long placed Test success above all other considerations.

Australian coach Trevor Bayliss was drafted in with the aim of guiding their bid for a first World Cup title. The transformation has been impressive, with England climbing to number one in the ODI rankings under the astute captaincy of Eoin Morgan.

Their rise to the summit has been based on dynamic run-scoring, with in-form openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow leading the way. But the stakes for hosts England are higher than simply the winning of a match that would see them into a final against New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday.

Australia have never lost any of their seven previous World Cup semi-finals — although they did tie with South Africa at Edgbaston 20 years ago before advancing into the final on superior net run-rate. They landed a psychological blow in the group stage when they beat Ashes rivals England by 64 runs at Lord’s last month.

Australia left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc shared nine wickets between them in a match where Australia captain Aaron Finch made 100 after surviving a testing opening from England’s fast bowlers.

Roy, however, was missing with a torn hamstring and since his return, England have scored crucial wins over India and New Zealand that took them into the semi-finals. By contrast Australia, who have not won in any format at Edgbaston since the 2001 Ashes Test, suffered a surprise 10-run defeat by South Africa at Old Trafford in their final group game.

England, as well as finding a way to cope with Starc, will have to contain the run-scoring threat of a powerful Australian top order. David Warner has scored 638 runs this tournament following the left-handed opener’s return to international cricket after a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Today’s Fixture

Australia vs England

starts 2:30 pm PST

at Edgbaston

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