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A stark choice for Aussies - beat England or bow out

Cricket

Win or go home - that's the ultimatum Australia face when they take on an in-form England at Edgbaston on Saturday.

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Eoin Morgan’s side booked their Champions Trophy semi-final spot overnight with an impressive 87-run win over New Zealand in Cardiff to secure top spot in Group A.

While the weather gods have conspired against Australia – with both of their matches against Bangladesh and New Zealand abandoned due to rain – they were shining down on the hosts in the Welsh capital.

With torrential rain hitting the city all day Monday, more was predicted to follow 24 hours later with the significant prospect of another wash-out.

However, it never materialised and England cruised to victory after bowling out New Zealand for 223 inside 45 overs, having posted 310 after being put in to bat.

The result means Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand all have a chance of reaching the semi-finals on Saturday.

Victory for Australia over England, in what’s essentially a quarter-final match, will keep their tournament alive by virtue of having four points.

New Zealand and Bangladesh each have a point due to their washouts against Australia and should Steve Smith’s side lose, the winner of their match on Friday in Cardiff will advance to the last four.

Only Aaron Finch, David Warner, Smith and Moises Henriques spent time at the crease in the tournament due to the weather but Smith is unconcerned and believes the pressure of needing a result will suit his players.

“I’m sure they’ll be OK,” Smith said.

“Most of the guys have been playing a lot of cricket, anyway, having been at the IPL and things like that.

“I think once they get out in the middle, things will just click into place, and yeah, hopefully we can play well on the 10th in Birmingham.

“It makes the equation pretty simple for us. We have to beat England.”

Should Australia win, it will extend their stay in Birmingham where they would play in the second semi-final against the winner of Group B – which is likely to be South Africa or India – on June 15.

One bonus for Smith in Monday’s wash-out at The Oval was the improved performance of his quicks, with Mitchell Starc particularly impressive alongside the consistent Josh Hazlewood.

It was a much-improved showing on what was served up against New Zealand last Friday and Smith said he was relishing the opportunity to unleash them on England’s powerful batting line-up.

“I thought all our bowlers were a lot better,” he said.

“We hit some good areas early on and challenged the defence of Bangladeshi batsmen.

“Everyone that bowled did a pretty good job and it was nice that we were able to turn things around.”

-AAP

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