London: The historic Lord’s Cricket Ground is all set for the World Cup clash of traditional rivals Australia and England on Tuesday. The momentum was felt even during the Pakistan-South Africa match on Sunday as preparations for welcoming fans of the home team and the Aussies were in full swing.
As the tournament progressed, although England started well, their two defeats to Pakistan and Sri Lanka almost erased their tag as favourites. A defeat to Australia at the home of cricket will make things even tougher for the hosts. However, England skipper Eoin Morgan insists another defeat will not spell the end for the home team’s hopes. “It’s not must-win yet,” he said. “We don’t need to win every game to get to the semi-finals. It’s another game where we try and produce a performance that’s worthy of the innings at Lord’s against Australia.”
Morgan admitted that his players were unhappy at the 20-run defeat to Sri Lanka on Friday. “Naturally, the guys are upset,” he said. “They are very excited about getting back on the park tomorrow to try and produce something that everybody’s used to seeing us play, and if that means that we win the game, great.”
Australian skipper Aaron Finch does not want to put pressure on his team by thinking that this is a special game. All he wants is to play for the two points. “I don’t think you can put any more importance on one game over another in terms of your country’s rivalries or anything, particularly when there are two points on the line in such a tightly contested table there,” he said. “So it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be big, no doubt. But at the end of the day, it’s still two points up for grabs regardless of who you’re playing.”
Both the teams have good pacers and the weather forecast for a cloudy day could be helpful. It is also likely that this match might be delayed due to rain expected overnight.
The big question for the England skipper during the prematch conference was whether their star opener Jason Roy would be fit for the game tomorrow. Morgan revealed he will not make it. “We’ll monitor his progress during the week and assess him then as that unfolds,” said Morgan. “He’s a big loss. He’s an outstanding performer before us. He epitomises the way we play as a group. He’s been in the team for a very long time.”
Finch fears that England could strike due to many reasons. “If you look at England’s record over the last couple of years, I think I read something the other day that they haven’t lost back-to-back ODIs in England for quite some time,” the Australia captain said. “And if you look at their trend, they tend to bounce back and go ultra-aggressive as well. So we are ready for that. We are expecting them to come out very hard and take the game on, which has been one of their main traits over the last couple of years, in particular.”
Teams batting first have won three of the last four games at this venue. However, Finch believes that anyone can win matches. “I look at our side and see a lot of match-winners,” he said. “I look at England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies, everyone has match-winners, and guys who on their day can blow a game apart. So it’s about the team that holds their nerve the longest and under the highest pressure that will succeed, no doubt.”
Morgan believes that every player will try to give their best. “Every game is a one-off game,” he said. “It’s a chance to prove ourselves. It’s a chance to play the way we’ve been playing, if allowed to.”