July 12 (India Today) – England believed that the World Cup was coming home. There was a genuine buzz about the country’s football team that punched above its weight and made it to the last-four of FIFA World Cup in 2018 in Russia.
Millions had gathered at pubs and public screenings across the major cities in England. At the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, England fans waited for history to unveil. They hadn’t reached the final of a FIFA World Cup since 1966, which was also the last time they won the Jules Rimet Trophy.
England had survived some tough situations in the knockout stages. Their Round of 16 win over Colombia that was decided on penalties showed the new English side, under Gareth Southgate, was capable of holding the nerves at crunch moments.
When Kieran Trippier found the back of the net as early as the 5th minute of the semi-final, the English fans reassured themselves that the World Cup was coming home. However, at the end of 120 minutes of a fiercely-fought battle, England’s World Cup dream was over. Croatia won the semi-final 2-1 after Mario Mandzukic’s winner in the 2nd half of extra-time.
England football team had won millions of hearts but no trophy to show for. England was unable to put behind the disappointment of the semi-final heartbreak and the impact of the defeat was seen in their listless display against Belgium in their third-place playoff defeat.
Cut to July 11, 2019, England did not mess it up this time in the semi-final. Eoin Morgan’s men were up against five-time champions Australia in the last-four match of World Cup 2019.
Odds were stacked in favor of Australia as they hadn’t lost a single World Cup semi-final in 8 previous attempts before heading into the Edgbaston tie against England on Thursday.
Eoin Morgan’s England a win away from bringing it home
However, England came up with a ruthless performance that saw Australia comfortably outclassed and ousted from the World Cup.
After opting to bat first, Australia was jolted early by Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes. The holders never recovered from the early loss of wickets even as Steve Smith scored a valiant 85. Australia ended with 223 on the board.
A Jason Roy-Jonny Bairstow special at the top of the order saw England make light work of the target as they got past the finish line in just 32.3 overs.
The World Cup 2019 semi-final was one-sided so much so that Australia captain Aaron Finch conceded that the 8-wicket defeat was their “worst performance” in a World Cup match.
England has lived up to the billing of pre-tournament favorites. They suffered a dip in form after back-to-back loses of Sri Lanka and Australia in the group stages but have bounced back in style.
New Zealand is waiting in the final which will be played at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s. Since the start of the decade, host nations have gone on to win the Cricket World Cup 2019 — India in 2011, Australia in 2015. Is it England’s time this year?
The founders of the game haven’t won a 50-over World Cup title yet. But if Eoin Morgan-led side’s performances in World Cup 2019 are anything to go by, the fans can certainly believe that it’s coming home this time.