Coming into the tournament as hosts and the No 1 One-Day International side, England have had to deal with high expectations in their bid to win their first-ever men’s World Cup.
The first objective of reaching the semi-final stages for first time since 1992 has been achieved, though, even if there were a few nerve-shredding moments along the way.
Eoin Morgan’s troops prevailed in their final two games against India and New Zealand to book their last four place, taking their overall group stage tally to six wins from nine games.
And while it has been 27 years since they last contested a World Cup semi-final, England do have plenty of experience of reaching this stage from when the competition was in its infancy.
England progressed to the semi-final stages in the first five editions of the tournament, only to see their challenge go no further in 1975 and 1983 – both times when they were the hosts.
But when they have reached the final – in 1979, 1987 and 1992 – England finished runners-up to West Indies, Australia and Pakistan. This time the hosts will be hoping to be fourth time lucky.
England's road to World Cup 2019 semi-finals
|South Africa||The Oval||Won by 104 runs|
|Pakistan||Trent Bridge||Lost by 14 runs|
|Bangladesh||Sophia Gardens||Won by 106 runs|
|West Indies||Rose Bowl||Won by 8 wickets|
|Afghanistan||Old Trafford||Won by 150 runs|
|Sri Lanka||Headingley||Lost by 20 runs|
|Australia||Lord's||Lost by 64 runs|
|India||Edgbaston||Won by 31 runs|
|New Zealand||Riverside Ground||Won by 119 runs|
- In Jonny Bairstow (462 runs from nine innings) and Jason Roy (341 runs from five innings), England have arguably the best opening pair in ODI cricket at the moment. Their slump in the league stage coincided with Roy getting sidelined due to injury but ever since the right-hander came back, they’ve looked like a different side altogether. The hosts bat deep but it’s their marauding opening combination that sets the tone for them.
- With the bat, with the ball and in the field, Ben Stokes continues to be a massive figure in the English set-up. The all-rounder has scored 381 runs from nine innings, taken seven wickets and also shown brilliance in the field. He wasn’t at his best in the IPL but has stepped up on the biggest stage and added great depth to his side.
- England’s bowling was considered their big weakness leading to the tournament but Jofra Archer’s arrival has given them the X-factor. The right-arm pacer has taken 17 wickets in nine innings and plays a big role for them with the new ball. His pace and aggressive bowling style in the first powerplay will be crucial in the semi-final against Australia’s in-form openers Aaron Finch and David Warner.
- What’s their strength has also exposed one of their weaknesses. On paper, England have solid batting options till No 7 but in the three defeats that they’ve suffered in the tournament, their middle order has crumbled after the openers have failed. Joe Root (500 runs from nine innings) has been consistent but the likes of skipper Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler haven’t been at their best. The team has the tendency of going astray at the fall of early wickets.
- They’ve changed the way ODI cricket is played over the past few years, with 300 often considered a below-par score, but England’s success has largely been built on flat tracks at home. Against Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka, their batsmen struggled once the ball started to move a little bit. The hosts will need to be wary of this threat against Mitchell Starc and Co in the semi-final.
- Adil Rashid, England first-choice spinner, has bowled in nine innings, taken eight wickets and conceded 433 runs. The leg-spinner has been one of the most prolific bowlers in ODI cricket over the past few years but he hasn’t stepped up on the biggest stage. England’s other spinner is Moeen Ali, who has taken five wickets in as many matches in this World Cup. The lack of in-form spinner may hurt the hosts when it matter most.
A force first up
Put simply, no-one does it quite like England with the bat in the powerplay.
They averaged 54.22 for the first wicket in the group stage but crucially scored at 5.43 runs an over, faster than every team other than Sri Lanka, who shed wickets early on.
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy hold the key as the highest averaging ODI opening pair of all time to have batted more than 20 times together.
They keep on coming
It’s not just in the early stages that England throw caution to the wind – they only have eyes for the boundary throughout the 50 overs.
Only West Indies (10.7%) had a higher boundary rate in overs 11-40 than the hosts in the group stage, who hit 10.3% of balls they faced in that crucial period for four or six.
And with their tail scoring at a higher run-rate than any team in the world since the last World Cup – 6.19 an over – they are an irresistible force with the bat in the right conditions.
Brittle with the ball
Cutting edge with the ball is the main area in which England lag slightly behind the other three semifinalists.
They bowled more overs than any other semi-finalist and their strike-rate of 35.2 was dwarfed by India’s 33.3, New Zealand’s 33.8 and Australia’s 33.9.
And chasing totals has been a chink in the armour of Eoin Morgan’s men at this tournament – having won 17 consecutive run chases at home, they fell short three times in the group stage.
(With inputs from AFP and ICC)