Since 2017, England had won ten out of twelve ODIs against Australia -- including a whitewash in the five-match ODI series at home last year -- and the hosts came into the 2019 World Cup with genuine hopes of clinching their maiden World Cup title.
Following a commanding start to the flagship event -- winning four of their first five games -- Eoin Morgan’s side lost their way after a 20-run defeat against Sri Lanka. The equations became less flexible after that loss, especially with their last three fixtures against Australia, India and New Zealand -- the teams at the top three spots in the table and undoubtedly the three title contenders.
Arguably the toughest test for England on their way to the semifinal only served to make things more difficult as the hosts succumbed to a 64-run defeat against the mighty Australians in what was predicted to be a classic encounter between the two arch-rivals.
There was a fighting hundred from Australia skipper Aaron Finch, a brilliant comeback with the ball from England, an outstanding display of left-arm fast bowling from Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc and lastly Ben Stokes’ valiant fight for the hosts which eventually went in vain as the Aussies ended up as the better team.
Once again England just couldn’t hold on to the courage in the biggest stage against the five-time World champions, who were simply clinical. Australia’s attitude could easily be compared with that of German football team -- recency bias notwithstanding -- based on their ruthless approach on the field on the big stage.
It was the famed killer instinct from Australia which was once again replicated in the World Cup, as they climbed to the top of the points table and became the first team to ensure their semifinal spot in the ongoing tournament.
After a magnificent hundred from skipper Finch -- his 15th ODI ton and second in the ongoing World Cup -- Australia looked all set to cross the 300-run mark. But a middle-order collapse saw Australia not living up to expectations as they went on to post a challenging 285 for seven.
It was a make-or-break situation for England and the hosts just couldn’t live up to the expectations. A win against Australia yesterday could have led the way to breaking the mental barrier for England and catapulted them into becoming genuine title contenders but the English side just were not able to hurdle the challenge.
England, coming in to chase, faced some fierce fast bowling from the two Aussie left-arm seamers in the form of Behrendorff and Starc. The duo rattled through the English batting line-up by scalping eight wickets among themselves.
Whether it was Behrendorff’s perfect in-swinging delivery to hit the middle stump of James Vince or Starc’s unplayable yorker to get Stokes bowled -- arguably the best delivery of the tournament so far -- Australia were the side with the champion attitude.
It was Australia who showed how to absorb pressure in a big game and it seems pretty tough for England to make a comeback in the tournament.