Hosts England began ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 as a firm favourite to win the title and despite some strong performances, had exposed chinks in the armour galore as well. Finishing league stage at the third spot in the pool table appears a whole lot easier than it really was because the team, at a point in time, won't make it. Now, Eoin Morgan's team faces off against the mighty Aussies in the second semifinal of the tournament for the right to play New Zealand in the summit clash this Sunday.
The road to semis:
England vs South Africa
Result: England won by 104 runs
England's campaign in the World Cup got off to a flying start when the team defeated South Africa who had looked like a formidable team till then. The opening match of the tournament got off to an electric start when Imran Tahir dismisses Jonny Bairstow off the second delivery of the match. Fifties from Jason Roy, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, however, repaired the damage to a large extent. Ben Stokes slammed 89 off 79 in the middle-order to set Proteas a target of 312.
South Africa's batting display was most unimpressive with Aiden Markram falling in the eight over, followed by skipper Faf du Plessis in the tenth. Quinton de Kock scored 68 but the pace battery of Liam Plunkett and Jofra Archer ensured that the Proteas were bowled out for 207.
England vs Pakistan
Result: Pakistan won by 14 runs
If the opening match was an impressive display of skills from England, the team's second match - against Pakistan, exposed the flaws.
England's bowling unit was beaten black and blue by determined efforts from most of Pakistan's top and middle-order batsmen. Fifties from Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed took Pakistan to 348/8 with Moeen Ali claiming three wickets and turning out to be England's most economical.
The chase was led by a confident century from Root and a middle-order fight from Buttler who too scored a ton. The rest of the batsmen failed to fire and the hosts were forced to halt 14 runs short.
England vs Bangladesh
Result: England won by 106 runs
England returned to winning ways courtesy a fine batting display from Roy who slapped an explosive 121-ball 153 against Bangladesh. Fifties from Bairstow and Buttler helped England mount a massive 386/6.
Against a determined bowling attack, Bangaldesh were always going to struggle to bring down this target. Shakib al Hasan did help himself to a 119-ball 121 but his solitary heroics proved to be woefully inadequate as his side was bowled out for 280 with Archer and Stokes claiming three wickets each.
England vs West Indies
Result: England won by 8 wickets
England's bowlers were all over West Indies right from the start to ensure an easy win for the hosts.
Chris Woakes was the first to strike with the ball when he dislodged Ervin Lewis in just the third over of the match. Mighty Chris Gayle hit 36 but fell to Plunkett. A target in excess of 200 would have been difficult had Nicholas Pooran not managed to score a patient 63 off 78.
Archer once again claimed three wickets, as did Mark Wood.
Root led the chase with an unbeaten 100 as England cruised to the target set in just 33.1 overs.
England vs Afghanistan
Result: England won by 150 runs
This match would be best remembered for Morgan slamming a record 17 sixes to absolutely destroy the Afghan bowling attack. He scored 148 runs of just 71 balls while Bairstow's 90 and Root's 88 helped the team post an incredible 397/6.
In reply, Hashmatullah Shahidi hit 76 but the minnows could only play to show they too could reach a respectable total. That total would be 247/8 with Archer claiming three wickets yet again.
England vs Sri Lanka
Result: Sri Lanka won by 20 runs
In a match that showed low scores too can be defended, Sri Lanka managed to upstage England despite setting a target of just 233.
The visitors were led by Angelo Matthews who hit an unbeaten 85 despite Archer and Wood claiming three wickets each.
England's reply was anything but auspicious as Bairstow was trapped LBW off the second delivery Malinga bowled. Stokes' 87* and Root's 57 were just not enough to take England through.
England vs Australia
Result: Australia won by 64 runs
Both Australia and England would now be looking back at this encounter for tips before the all-important semi-final clash.
The league-stage face-off between the two teams was a one-sided contest completely in favour of the Aussies who were led by Finch. The captain and opener hit a fluent 100 while Warner's 53 set a solid opening tempo to the innings.
The remaining batsmen, however, were unable to build too well from thereon and it is only because of a quickfire 38* off 27 from Carey that the Aussies managed a score of 285/7.
It would be a total a little too much for the English batsmen with opener James Vince falling off the second delivery of the chase. Joe Root, for all his credentials, fell in the fourth over. Eoin Morgan would be back in the pavilion by the sixth over and Jason Behrendorff - already on a high after striking in the first over itself - would remove Jonny Bairstow in the 14th over of the chase.
Behrendorff crushed any resistance that could have come from the lower middle-order and eventually finished with a fifer to dismiss England for 221 inside 45 overs.
England vs India
Result: England won by 31 runs
In a match that meant little to India in terms of need for points, England went in desperate for a win. A win would have possibly allowed Pakistan to dislodge the hosts in the top four. It was not meant to be as England came up with their 'A' game to script a significant win.
Batting first, England scored 337/7 courtesy Bairstow's 111 and half-centuries from Roy and Stokes. This despite Mohammad Shami claiming a fiffer.
India's chase was led by Rohit Sharma who hit one of his five centuries in the match. Captain Virat Kohli too hit a fluent 66 but despite starts from the other batsmen, it appeared India had left it a little too late to go for the final explosion. The Men in Blue could only score 306/5.
England vs New Zealand
Result: England won by 119 runs
England stamped their class in the match against Kiwis to register a massive win in the match.
Bairstow completed yet another century in the match to help his side to 305/8. The contributions from Roy (60) and Morgan (42) were significant as well.
The chase never seemed to be on track as barring 57 from Tom Latham, every other Kiwi batsman floundered for the team to be bowled out for 186 in 45 overs.