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England battle 'perfect' Australia in quest to keep World Cup dream alive
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England battle 'perfect' Australia in quest to keep World Cup dream alive

The oldest rivals in cricket - England and Australia - go head-to-head at Edgbaston on Thursday to decide which team moves one step closer to lifting the coveted World Cup trophy.

England, the indisputable favourites at the start of the tournament, find themselves in new territory since the upcoming clash marks the first time in 27 years they will be appearing in a World Cup semi-final.

Despite hiccups along the way to their advancement into the knockout stage, England have been clinical in their wins signaling their resolve to make their tournament campaign count.

England's approach throughout the World Cup reflects their remarkable one-day cricket transformation symbolized by the rapid rise to the number one spot in the rankings.

It has been the pressure of chasing which has brought out the worst in Eoin Morgan's side during this tournament, where they have often looked panicky and directionless while batting second.

The England skipper though called on his players to live their moment in the spotlight and avoid any crippling doubts caused by the pressure of the occasion.

"Sometimes I'm guilty of it, you can lose sight of the position you're in and the fact you're living your dream.

"I think it's possible to play with a smile on your face tomorrow," Morgan told reporters on the eve of the game.

Australia's balanced squad, meanwhile, has been rocked by a spate of injuries to their key middle-order batsmen Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja.

Although they succumbed to an inconsequential 10-run defeat at the hands of South Africa in their final group phase match, Australia seem to have all of their bases covered especially with an opening pair that regularly fires.

The statistics, on the other hand, do not back Australia's quest for maintaining dominance over the Ashes foes given England's unbeaten run in the last 10 ODIs at Edgbaston and Australia's poor record at this very venue.

But in this game of numbers and recent form, Australia still can be perceived to have the upper hand and their pacers would be eyeing another profitable outing against the English side similar to how they fared in Match 32 of the World Cup.

Morgan's personal encounter against Starc in perspective

Morgan was found wanting against the intimidating pace of Mitchell Starc as the left-handed batsman looked queasy during his short stay at the crease in the previous game versus Australia.

Morgan's uncharacteristic shuffle to the leg-side to cope with Starc's thunderbolts sparked criticism from former England batsman Kevin Pietersen who interpreted the whole scenario as indicative of the skipper's fearful mindset.

Although the 32-year-old dismissed this observation, Pietersen's words hype up the contest between Morgan and Starc to decide who triumphs this time around.

Carey's coming of age in this tournament

The inexperienced Alex Carey came into the World Cup with a lot of questions being raised regarding his place in the team.

With three half-centuries in the group stage and a highly impressive record across the World Cup, Carey has shown the way for wicket-keepers in this tournament.

Equipped with a wide array of delectable strokes, the often underrated Carey is vital to Australia's cause and could be expected to play another crucial role in the semi-final clash.


Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon, Matthew Wade

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, James Vince, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood