Australia 277/9 (TM Head 71*, AJ Flinch 68, SPD Smith 56, MA Wood 4/33/4, Adil Rashid 4/41) lost to England 240/4 in 40.2 overs (BA Stokes 102*, EG Morgan 87) Duckworth & Lewis target was 201 when rain interrupted.
Favorite Australia returns home empty handed from ICC Champions Trophy failing to win any of its three matches from Group the group of death. Host England won the very crucial match on Duckworth and Lewis’s method scoring 240/4 in 40.2 overs chasing a target of 278 in 50 overs. England required 201 to win in rain interfered match in D/L method at that stage. Who would have believed at any stage of the tournament that strong Australia and New Zealand would exit early from the group stage and amazing Bangladesh would qualify for the first time for the semifinal of an ICC event! Bravo Mashrafee cornered tigers. The two matches of today and tomorrow would decide whom Tigers play in the semis.
Points Table: 11 June 2017
Poor Australians must blame their luck. All three matches had rain interference. They could have lost their first match against New Zealand when rain apparently came to their rescue. They were deprived of a win against Bangladesh when rain interfered again. They were only four overs away from a certain win. In the must-win the last match against England they were cruising for a match-winning score at 239/2 in 43 overs when their batting imploded. Rashid and Wood crushed them to submission. Five wickets were lost for mere 15 runs. Again when England was chasing Starc and Hazelwood reduced them to 35/3 by the fifth over Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan blew Aussies out with a belligerent 159 fourth wicket partnership. Rain again interfered. But by the time play ended England was far ahead of the adjusted target of 201 in 40.2 overs. England was sitting pretty at 240/4. England with 6 points from three matches won the group, Bangladesh with 3 from three matches joins the semi-finals from the group. Two better teams of the group on the basis of their performance rightly deserved qualifications.
England won the toss and chose to field knowing well that Aussie middle order was short of match practice and England had the bowling to trouble them. But Flinch and Smit with quality aggressive batting adding 96 for the second wicket after the early loss of Warner set a very strong platform for a strong middle order to consolidate. Once Stokes and Woods got rid of Flinch (68) and Smith (56) Australians innings started falling apart. Other than Head unbeaten 71 none could withstand the avalanche of Rashid and Wood. From a position of assurance at 4/239 in the 43rd over Australia could only put up a below par 277/ 9 in allotted overs. Wood got 4/33 Rashid claimed 4/41. 278 target was never enough for a very strong English batting.
When Smith and Flinch were going strong commentators were predicting 330-340 runs. But this English team is thoroughly professional from tip to toe. Morgan never looked like losing hope. Some over enthusiastic Bangladesh tried to find relax in English body language without realizing that England would never like strong Australia to advance. Either Flinch or Smith should have batted till the end for a big score. Quality pace attack of England despite the absence of Chris Woakes removed Flinch and Smith on time before they could set their roots deep. Then quality leggie Adil Rashid did his job. Australia never plays quality spin well other than Smith. Australian middle order dramatically collapsed to Rashid and Wood combination.
Still a few thought the very strong Australian pace attack would create a strong challenge. Starc and Hazelwood made early inroads. Hales, Roy, and Root have blown away. But Captain Morgan was there to salvage and top all-rounder Ben Stokes to drive Englishmen across the rough sea. Rain started threatening but Morgan Stokes brilliance always kept England ahead, Finally, when play had to be stopped after 40.2 overs England was 240/4 well ahead in Duckworth & Lewis count. Australia was shut out. Stroke struck a very timely unbeaten 102 in 109 deliveries with 13 fours and two sixes. Consistent Morgan was run out scoring 87. Do not think Australia had enough runs to defend or had right balanced bowling attack. They now have plenty to ponder for Bangladesh tour and upcoming Ashes. England Lions and Bengal Tigers proceeded from Group of Death to semifinals. It may so happen that they may meet again in the finals.
Bangladesh deserved to be qualifying for the first time for the semifinal of an ICC event. Their ascendancy to top league over the last two years is remarkable. After 2015 World Cup they have played brilliantly. Pakistan, India, South Africa all lost bilateral ODI series on tour. Even England had to play out of skin to win 2-1 in the ODI series, lost a test drawing the series 1-1. True they were whitewashed in New Zealand. But they learned a lot. In Sri Lanka tour they drew ODI, T20, and Test series. In the run up to the Champions Trophy, they came second to New Zealand in a triangular ODI series.
In the three matches of the group stage, they should have won against England after scoring 305 if they bowled and fielded well. They should have played with the attack they played against New Zealand. They won handsomely against New Zealand. The batting failure against Australia almost cost them the match until the rain came as a savior. One thing deserves mentioning that this Bangladesh team is well experienced. Number 3 and 4 ranked teams exited and 5 & 6 have moved through.
Two matches today and tomorrow would settle the semi-final line up. After Australia, another tournament favorites South Africa or India would exist today. The dogfight of 7th and 8th ranked Sri Lanka and Pakistan would find the other semifinalist. What a wonderful tournament it has turned out. There is a possibility that three out of four teams will be South Asian neighbors. Finally, Bengal tigers have made the world feel of their growing stature in world cricket.
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