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ICC World Cup: Australia beat England by 33 runs: Closer to semi-finals with fifth straight win

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In the ICC World Cup, in another match in Ahmedabad, England chased down the target of 287 runs a short time ago.

Asked to bat first, Australia were all out at 286 runs  in 49.3 overs.  Marnus Labuschagne top scored with 71 runs. For England, Chris Woakes picked up 4 wickets, while Adil Rashid and Mark Wood took two wickets each.

They’d been huffing and puffing for a while but Australia took England off the life support and sent them crashing out of the World Cup, drawing the curtains on a glorious eight-year chapter in white-ball cricket history. And fittingly, any remnants of England’s hopes were extinguished at Ahmedabad, the very place their defence of the crown had begun to slip a month ago. If any fears about an ill-prepared and unbalanced line-up seemed unfounded then, the need for the double world-champions to reboot and start afresh was laid bare by Australia’s all-round show on Saturday (November 4).

Nothing exemplified this dismal title defence than Jos Buttler’s dismissal for a seven-ball 1 in England’s chase of 286. The skipper walked out after an 84-run platform set by the third-wicket pair of Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes. The dew had set in and Buttler sought to stamp his authority on the lead opposition spinner, Adam Zampa. He stepped out and hit the ball straight down long-off’s throat. The legspinner finished with frankly remarkable figures of 3 for 21, finishing the night atop the wicket charts.

Relatively, this was a better batting show from England after two miserable outings despite losing Jonny Bairstow off the first ball of the chase and Joe Root in the fifth over. Malan and Stokes kept their inner bees and butterflies under wraps to score half-centuries and put the chase back on target. But all that circumspection seemed un-England like and eventually the cracks were out on display once more when Pat Cummins had Malan heaving one to square leg right after the England opener had got to 50.

There was still hope as long as Stokes remained at the crease but the trouble for England in this campaign had been that Stokes hadn’t been at the crease long enough when he was available to play. Today, there were flashes of the old when he belted Travis Head over his head for a six or when he picked a length delivery from Mitchell Starc and sent it soaring over deep square leg for six. But having taken 90 balls for his 64, he attempted to sweep Zampa only to find the fielder at short-fine for a soft dismissal.

The rest of the line-up didn’t have the wherewithal to mount a successful chase in the backdrop of a mounting asking rate although there were handy knocks from Moeen Ali (42) and Chris Woakes (32), that helped to keep the margin of defeat to a narrow 33 runs. The Champions Trophy berth, however, had slipped away further from England than it had been at the start of the day.

Where England slipped to their sixth defeat in seven games, this was Australia’s fifth win on the bounce after an equally shaky start themselves. The win, which put them on the cusp of sealing qualification to the semifinals, was achieved through several important performances, not least that of Zampa’s efforts with the ball. Marnus Labuschagne scored a vital 71 and Cam Green, Steve Smith and Stoinis added signifiicant little contributions to add heft to the total.

Put into bat, they got off to an unusually slow start after Woakes prized out both Travis Head and David Warner inside the PowerPlay. England gambled after a 48-run PowerPlay by bringing in their fifth bowling combination of Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali ahead of lead spinner Adil Rashid and that was an invitation for the rebuilding pair of Smith and Labuschagne to transfer the pressure back onto the bowling side. Both Smith and Labuschagne picked up a boundary each of Moeen’s first over and moved into the 30s forcing Rashid’s introduction.

The legspinner, one of the team’s brightest prospects in a forgettable campaign, struck in just his second over when Smith went chasing after a cleverly floated up delivery outside off-stump. Smith fell six short of a half-century and Rashid quickly added the wicket of Josh Inglis in the next over to force Australia into another period of rebuilding.

Cameron Green and Labuschagne provided just that while picking up the regular boundary against the fifth bowler. Green even got two boundaries off a Mark Wood over to before the fast bowler hit back in his next over to break the stand by nipping a pacy delivery back into Labuschagne. Australia’s No.4 had done his job with a crafty 71 off 83 but took back a review with him. Another period of rebuilding followed as Green and Marcus Stoinis took the team to 220/5 at the 40th over. But Australia’s launch had to be delayed as Green fell immediately thereafter to the returning David Willey, who slipped a full delivery under his attempted slog sweep.

When Stonis fell for 35 right after hitting Livingstone for a six and a four in the 44th over, Australia faced the prospect of folding well below the 50th over. But a key cameo from Zampa (29 off 19) ensured they missed out on only three balls of their available quota to finish with a solid total against a struggling opponent, who had chased only two scores about 250 in their World Cup history. Today wasn’t a day to add to that list.

Brief scores: Australia286 in 49.3 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 71, Cameron Green 47; Chris Woakes 4-54, Adil Rashid 2-38) beat England 253 in 48.1 overs (Ben Stokes 64, Dawid Malan 50; Adam Zampa 3-21) by 33 runs

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