Australia became the first team to guarantee a place in the knockout phase of the World Cup, damaging England’s prospects in the process with a 64-run win at Lord’s.
A second century of the tournament for captain Aaron Finch and nine wickets shared between left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc guaranteed the reigning champions a semi-final place but left England nursing a third defeat from seven.
New Zealand can join their Antipodean neighbours in the last four with a sixth win of the tournament over Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday, with England willing them on.
With games against India and the Black Caps still to come, the hosts do not want Pakistan or Bangladesh to build a head of steam.
Mitchell Starc’s wife, the Australia Women’s wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy, revealed a home supporter got the paceman’s competitive juices flowing on the morning of the match.
Today: New Zealand v Pakistan, 10:30 (Edgbaston)
Babar Azam. The aesthetically pleasing Pakistan batsman has not pulled up trees at the competition so far, with a top score of 69 and a modest strike-rate of just 87. But he is a class act and if anyone is going to throw the Black Caps off their game and throw open the race for fourth, it could well be the man from Lahore.
Lord’s is no stranger to attracting the great and the good and a World Cup clash against Australia did not disappoint as a draw. Former Prime Ministers John Major and David Cameron led the way among the political classes, Ed Sheeran and Muse frontman Matt Bellamy represented for the rockers, with current England football boss Gareth Southgate and former Three Lions chief Glenn Hoddle also in attendance.
The captain was taking the optimistic view ahead of England’s last two group games.
Australia saw off England’s new-ball pace attack at the top of the day, leaving Aaron Finch and David Warner to up the ante after that initial measured approach. And Finch wasted precious little time in getting after Moeen Ali, sweeping England’s spin star for his first of two sixes en route to his second century of the tournament.
Selected ahead of Nathan Coulter-Nile, the Western Australia paceman announced himself in style when offered the chance to open the bowling on his first appearance at Lord’s. After one range-finder he conjured a wonderful inswinging yorker that would have cleaned up the very best. As a calling card in his first competitive outing against England, this one will take some beating.
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