They entered the World Cup as the favourites and the No 1 ranked team, during the campaign they slipped to No 2 but right now they are back on top again. With this exalted status, their recent brilliant form and the balanced team personnel it would have been a travesty if England did not make it to the semifinals. There was a brief while when after two successive losses their entry into the last four was in some danger. But raising their game in the manner of the champions that they are England won the last two games to take their appointed place in the semifinals. With Australia due to play South Africa and India to take on Sri Lanka they are likely to remain in third spot in the points table which means another high octane clash between India and England is on the cards and one could travel miles to see that game.
But that is in the future. It is true that England blew hot and cold during their campaign but there was always the feeling that they could not be kept out of a berth in the semifinals. They are too good a side to face elimination at the group stage was the general opinion and the team, cornered and desperate at a late stage of their campaign and stung to the quick by some harsh criticism from former players took it up as a challenge to get the better of two heavyweights India and New Zealand in their last two games.
The fact remains that England are a great side with perhaps the most destructive batting line-up in the game backed by a balanced bowling attack. In addition they have a couple of all-rounders and the ideal sheet anchor in Joe Root who can work things out admirably aside bit hitters and stroke playing batsmen like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes. They have three out of the top run getters in Root, Bairstow and Stokes and two of the top five wicket takers in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. Their formidable batting has accounted for the two highest totals in this competition and four of the nine highest totals. Theirs is the one batting line-up that can intimidate the opposition for one attacking batsman follows another.
History may be against England. The last time they entered the World Cup semifinal was way back in 1992 though they still remain the only team in the history of the competition to make at least the semifinals on five successive occasions – from 1975 to 1992 being runners-up on three occasions. Maybe it is England’s turn to finally win the cup. This is clearly their best chance.
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