World Cup 2019: Why Australia are favorites against England
The group stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 came to an end as India, Australia, England and New Zealand qualified into the knockout stages. India's win over Sri Lanka saw the Virat Kohli-led side occupy the top spot while Australia ended in second place with seven wins from nine matches.
Australia, courtesy of their second place finish will square off against England in the second semi-final on Thursday at Edgbaston, Birmingham. England have been in top form since the last two games, having defeated India post which they clinched an easy win against New Zealand in the last game of their league stage, qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time since 1992.
In the lead up to the knockout stages, Australia comprehensively defeated England in the league stage match by 64 runs. In that game, Aaron Finch scored a century and Jason Behrendorff led from the front, picking up a five-wicket haul as England's batting order crumbled against Australia's bowling unit.
One of the most important 'X-factors' Australia will have coming into the semifinal will be acres of experience. The defending champions and five-time World Cup winners will know exactly how to tackle the pressure of a knockout game while England could be troubled by the weight of expectations from their home fans.
Additionally, the Australian openers are in red-hot form. David Warner is also second in the table of leading run-scorers of the World Cup, just behind Rohit Sharma. Warner has 638 runs from nine matches at an average of 79.75 while Aaron Finch has also looked solid at the top with 507 runs, averaging 56.33.
Alex Carey is also looking in top form and has shown the ability to score quick runs in the end and his alliance with Glenn Maxwell in the slog overs could be a vital feature for Australia, considering the strength of England's death bowling unit.
However, apart from the batting, one of the biggest positives from the tournament has been the form of ace pacer Mitchell Starc. Starc is the leading wicket-taker of the tournament and will look to dismantle the English batting lineup, having picked up 26 wickets from the nine matches thus far.
While Starc has gone about his demolition job, he has received support from the likes of Jason Behrendorff, Pat Cummins and in the spin department, Nathan Lyon. If the conditions are believed to be overcast, the England batsmen could come under the scanner against the moving ball.
England too have their share of issues with the middle order unable to convert starts, barring a few games. While Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes have produced some quality knocks, the middle order could be put to a stern test if the Australians manage to rattle the top order.
In a high-pressure game, runs on the board make a huge difference. Chasing a target is never easy in knockout matches. Also, the teams that have batted first, have won most of the matches in this tournament and one could expect the team winning the toss to bat first.
In recent times, the England bowling unit has leaked runs while bowling first and if the Australian batsmen do hit their straps early on, the home fans could be in for a dissappointing show from their home side.
Also see – Australia vs England head to head stats