England’s Cricket World Cup hopes hang by a thread following crushing 64-run defeat by Australia

hammer blow

The hosts, who still have to face India and New Zealand, could be forced to win both games in order to qualify for the semi-finals

England’s faltering World Cup campaign suffered yet another blow as old rivals Australia booked their place in the semi-finals with a 64-run victory at Lord’s.

After shocking defeats against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, England ran aground when chasing for the third time in the tournament, dismissed for an error-strewn 221.

Joe Root was unable to inspire England with the bat

Getty Images – Getty

Joe Root was unable to inspire England with the bat

With India and New Zealand still to play, there is now minimal leeway if the world’s number one side are to reach the semi-finals of their own competition.

Australia captain Aaron Finch paved the way for his side’s win, weathering a tricky start after being sent in and making exactly 100, his second of the World Cup. Yet England rallied well with the ball, dragging the score back from 173 for one in the 32nd over to a more modest 285 for seven.

That still proved too much, though, Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc splitting the wickets as England’s top order limped to 53 for four.

The left-arm pair finished with nine wickets between them, including Behrendorff’s maiden five-for.

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Just as he did in a losing cause against Sri Lanka Ben Stokes stood tallest, battling apparent leg cramps on his way to a bullish 89, but he received precious little support as a much-vaunted batting line-up again fell short.

As anticipated Steve Smith and David Warner were booed to and from the crease on their first return to the home of cricket since year-long bans for ball-tampering, but that proved little more than a sideshow on a day that cranked up the pressure on Eoin Morgan’s men.