Cricket World Cup 2023: England’s defence ended by Australia defeat

ICC Men’s World Cup, Ahmedabad:
Australia 286 (49.3 overs): Labuschagne 71 (83); Woakes 4-54, Rashid 2-38
England 253 (48.1 overs): Stokes 64 (90), Zampa 3-21
Australia won by 33 runs
Scorecard. Group table.

England’s World Cup defence is over after old rivals Australia added the final nail with a 33-run victory in Ahmedabad.

England were already all-but out but a fifth miserable defeat in succession and sixth in total ended any hope of a freak turnaround.

They did well to bowl out Australia for 286 and showed some fight with the bat but were still dismissed for 253.

Jonny Bairstow was caught down the leg side off the first ball of the chase and Joe Root followed for 13, leaving Ben Stokes to play a lone hand as he threatened another special knock.

But, just as he began to move through the gears, Australia’s greatest tormentor in recent years was tamely caught off leg-spinner Adam Zampa for 64 from 90 balls.

Chris Woakes threatened the unlikely late on but his 32 only delayed the inevitable as England were dismissed in the penultimate over.

Defeat leaves England bottom of the table with two matches still to play – first against the Netherlands on Wednesday before their tournament concludes against Pakistan on Saturday.

Their attention now turns to attempting to avoid the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy by finishing outside of the top eight in India.

Meanwhile Australia are on the brink of securing their semi-final place and move on buoyed having ended the reign of their Ashes foes.

Australia strike final blow

England’s defence officially ending with defeat by Australia only adds further misery to a torrid four weeks.

It also ends where it began – at the world’s largest cricket stadium where English optimism was shattered by a thrashing from New Zealand in the tournament opener.

The bowling performance gave them hope – Woakes impressed with 4-54 – but from the moment of Bairstow’s tame dismissal, Australia were favourites.

Root was dropped on seven and nicked wide of slip before a thin edge through to the wicketkeeper was shown on review, leaving Stokes to rebuild with Dawid Malan.

From 19-2 they put on a careful stand of 84 from 108 balls until Malan hoisted a catch to deep square leg on 50. Captain Jos Buttler’s miserable run continued as he holed out off Zampa having struggled for seven balls for one run.

While Stokes was there, memories of his Headingley Ashes epic were not far away, with the required rate never too challenging.

He struck two sixes in bringing up his half-century, only to flick a Zampa long-hop straight into the hands of short fine leg.

Zampa finished with superb figures of 3-21, took a fine sprawling catch in the deep to dismiss David Willey and added an important 29 at number 10 with the bat.

England may have fought back to draw the Ashes this summer but it is Australia who strike the final blow of 2023.

Zampa boosts Australia’s total

England’s bowlers could take little blame for defeat by India last week and again they did a decent job to restrict and eventually dismiss Australia.

Until Zampa frustrated by helping add 38 for the ninth wicket with Mitchell Starc, they had done little wrong.

Woakes was dropped after a miserable first three games of this tournament but he summed up England’s belated improvement with two impressive spells.

He struck in the second over to have Travis Head caught at slip – breaking the opening partnership with David Warner that put on 175 in Australia’s previous game – and then had Warner caught off a top edge with a slower ball.

Afterwards Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, two thorns in England’s side from Ashes series past, attempted a rebuild with a stand of 75 from 96 balls but England conceded only six boundaries in that time to prevent the score running away.

Adil Rashid bowled superbly through the middle and was rewarded when Smith cut a wide ball to short third. Wicketkeeper Josh Inglis then hit a reverse sweep to the same fielder.

Mark Wood was more expensive, his 10 overs cost 70 runs, but one of his two wickets was that of Labuschagne – trapped in front by a ball that would have hit the top of leg stump flush.

Still, Australia scrapped, something which England have struggled to do throughout this tournament, to seal a fifth straight win.

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