(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – England apparently have made their last appearance in the World Cup at Lord’s unless they can win their remaining two matches against top teams India and New Zealand after Australia beat them by 64 runs in a crucial fixture here against a full house here today.
Five times champions Australia rode on skipper Aaron Finch’s century to score 285-7 and then through their disciplined bowling and fielding dismissed England for 221 to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.
With this defeat England, who were tagged as one of the favourites before the tournament remain on eight points with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan breathing down their necks.
Ben Stokes was once more England’s top scorer with a hard hit 89 off 115 balls (2 sixes, 8 fours) as the rest of the batting was blown away by the Australian left-arm pacies Mitchell Starc (4/43) and Jason Behrendorff (5/44) who took nine wickets between them. England failed to make use of inviting Australia to bat first under overcast and bowling friendly conditions when they failed to bowl a disciplined length and openers Finch and David Warner with a little bit of luck put together a century partnership. England’s fielding too was not as sharp as it should have been with a lot of fumbles on the field and a stumping chance missed by Buttler off Khawaja.
Finch and Warner has the best opening partnership in the tournament averaging 86 and it was no surprise they succeeded here under trying circumstances putting together 123 off 136 balls of which Warner’s share was 53 good enough to make him the first batsman of the current World Cup to cross the 500-run mark. What a tournament he is having following his success with the bat in the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad winning the orange cap as the leading run scorer with 692 runs.
Following that excellent start Australia were expected to press on for a total in excess of 300 but their batting fell away in the middle overs and England bowlers came back strongly finding their right lines and lengths to keep them down to a score of 285-7 which was still a challenging one on a pitch that had still something on it for the bowlers.
Where Australia’s batting collapsed was when Man of the Match Finch after getting to an excellent century off 116 balls (11 fours, 2 sixes) was dismissed next ball pulling Archer to fine leg. That was the time Australia should have accelerated but they kept on losing wickets regularly and it was only Alex Carey’s little cameo towards the end 38 not out off 27 balls (5 fours) that got them to their final total.