Cricket World Cup 2019: Everything is in England’s control, insists Eoin Morgan after second straight loss
Eoin Morgan was dismissed by a Mitchell Starc bouncer at Lord's. © AFP

LONDON: In 20 previous ODI matches at home before the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on May 30, England‘s chasing record in ODIs at home was perfect. Come the World Cup, they have failed to chase three of four totals set by opposing teams. 

Against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, they came 14 runs short of chasing 349. For reference, in they had chased 359 for the loss of four wickets and with 31 deliveries left to beat Pakistan. At Headingley last week, England then fluffed a chase of 233 against Sri Lanka, and on Tuesday at Lord’s fell 64 runs short of Australia’s 286.

In the span of a week, England’s World Cup ambitions have been derailed.

Eoin Morgan‘s team has now lost two matches in a row – for the first time since January 2017 – and three in the tournament. They remain at fourth place on the World Cup leaderboard with eight points, and need to defeat New Zealand and India, the two unbeaten teams, to confirm their place in the semi-finals. One win could also work for England, but for that Pakistan will need to lose one of their last three fixtures.

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Morgan put up a brave front at the post-match presentation, in pretty much the same tone he had spoken in a day before. England’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals, he said, were “still strong”.

“The chances are in our hands. Everything is within our control. We just need to produce a performance worthy of winning either one or the next two games,” he told reporters. “I think both this game and the last, we struggled with the basics of what we call our batting mantra. You know, strong intent, building partnerships, and doing it in our own way, and we haven’t done those for long enough periods of the game in order to either chase down 230 or chase down 280, and that’s disappointing.”

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Morgan admitted that England’s confidence had been dented with consecutive defeats.

“I think it will take a little bit of a hit, but I certainly don’t think it’s knocked anybody in the changing room,” he said. “Normally when we lose games of cricket, like I mentioned yesterday, we go back to what we do well. We’ll still strive to do that for Sunday’s game.”

Mitchell Starc yorker Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes was bowled for 89 by Mitchell Starc. (Image: Twitter/@cricketworldcup)

Set a target of 286, England’s batsmen were hit hard by Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc, who shared nine wickets between themselves. The left-armer Behrendorff bowled James Vince second ball of the chase and added Jonny Bairstow for 27 with a short ball during his opening spell of seven overs. Starc trapped Joe Root lbw with a viscous in-swinger and bounced out Morgan, who top-edged to fine leg, in a burst of 2/12 in three overs.

Jos Buttler pulled Marcus Stoinis to deep midwicket, Chris Woakes hit Behrendorff to the same region, and Ben Stokes was nailed with a ripper of a yorker from Starc.

Reviewing the carnage later, Morgan rued some of the shot-making of England batsmen against some quality pace bowling. “I’ve just been showed a highlight reel of short deliveries in which poor shots were played. They were supposed to be short. They were aimed at guy’s shoulder or armpit,” he said. “I think early on they bowled well. Been 20 for three and having us 20 for three obviously creates a bigger challenge, chasing 280. So to make those inroads, I thought they bowled well.

“I think our basics get challenged a lot more when we don’t play on batter-friendly wickets; when you probably have to rotate the strike a lot more, as opposed to find the boundary more often than not.”

England have no option but to lick their wounds and move to Birmingham, where they play India on June 30.