England’s foray into their first-ever World Cup (WC) semi-final since 1992 has come with a pinch of salt. South Africa’s win over Australia in the final group game has landed the hosts a match-up at Edgbaston against their archrivals, rather than playing India – a side they have defeated in the group game at this venue.
The nervousness in the home camp is understandable, considering Australia are unbeaten in seven WC semi-finals (W6, T1). A run of 15 wins in their last 17 ODIs has quashed all the pre-tournament concerns. However, injuries to Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis have cast doubts on the side’s balance.
That balance is even more skewed, if you consider Australia’s WC performances. David Warner and Aaron Finch have scored 44.9% of the runs scored by the batsmen (1,145 of 2,550) which is a clear indicator of their dependencies. It is even more prominent with the ball, where the duo of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins have accounted for 52.7% of the wickets collected by the bowlers (39 of 74).
England look a different unit with Jason Roy at the top, whose presence has liberated Jonny Bairstow (462 runs, SR 97.26) who has consecutive centuries to his name. Eoin Morgan’s perceived problems against the short ball exposes him in the middle-order, although Ben Stokes’ all-round returns (381 runs, seven wickets) is a huge boost.
The form of Adil Rashid (eight wickets, ER 5.85) is a concern, but the way Jofra Archer and Mark Wood have combined at the top for 33 wickets is a bonus. Although there are claims from the English camp that they don’t mind chasing, nine of their last ten ODIs have been won by the team batting first. Furthermore, five of England’s last six losses have come while chasing.
AUS vs ENG – Players to watch out for
Warner (AUS) has six 50+ scores in this WC in nine innings and averages 79.75. A chance to correct a lowly average of 33.21 against England (almost 13 points less than his career average) beckons.
England’s Liam Plunkett (eight wickets, ER 4.89) has proven to be a tough cookie in the middle overs with his cutters. A case in point being 3 for 55 against India at the same venue.
Eleven of Australia’s last 12 ODIs, including the last eight have been won by the team batting first.
Five of the eight WC H2H ODIs were won by the chasing side. Australia have won their last four WC H2Hs and six of the eight in total.
England have won their last three completed H2H ODIs at this venue. England haven’t lost consecutive H2H ODIs since September 2015.