Hosts England started the World Cup certainly as one of the favourite going into the tournament. They certainly started that way, registering a couple of convincing wins over big teams.
However, weakened by injuries, England lost their way a bit in the middle and at one stage was in danger of being knocked out of the tournament. A couple of media statements prompted a fiery response from the squad members and it seemed the campaign would completely derail, ending in disappointment.
Though in the latter stages and in pressure games against the big guns, England upped the ante and in the end sealed the semi-final spot with victories over India, New Zealand and Australia.
Here is a look at how the campaign went for England.
England vs South Africa: Stokes Shines on Opening Day
The first game of the tournament and England faced a tricky opposition in South Africa. Put into bat, Imran Tahir removed Jonny Bairstow early but then Jason Roy and Joe Root stitched a 106-run partnership before departing in quick succession. Both scored half-centuries, and then Ben Stokes added 89 off just 79 balls while Eoin Morgan scored a boundary-laden 57.
Stokes followed that with two wickets and a stunning catch as South Africa never really were in the chase and were bundled out for 207. Jofra Archer picked 3/27.
England vs Pakistan: Host Succumbs Against Unpredictable Pakistan
On paper, this was supposed to be an easy victory for England, maybe even easier than their first game. They had beaten Pakistan 5-0 in the series preceding the World Cup. However, Pakistan middle-order led by experienced Mohammad Hafeez clicked and they registered a score of 348/8. Hafeez’s 84 was well supported by Babar Azam’s 63 and Sarfaraz Ahmed’s 55.
England had two centurions with Joe Root’107 and Jos Buttler’s 103 but rest of the batting simply collapsed and Pakistan registered a 14-run victory.
England vs Bangladesh: Roy Ton Sinks Bangladesh
England was looking for a response and it was Jason Roy who put his hands up with a scintillating ton. He scored 153 off just 121 balls with 14 boundaries and five sixes. Bairstow scored a fine half-century while Jos Buttler provided the finishing touches with a quickfire 64 as England ended at 386/6.
Archer and Stokes picked three wickets each as Bangladesh were dismissed for 280. Also in this game, both Archer and Mark Wood clocked 150kph.
England vs West Indies: Pace Pair of Archer and Wood Shines
Jofra Archer playing against his former country, which he represented at the U-19 level, picked 3/30 in 9 overs while Mark Wood picked 3/18 as West Indies were bundled out for just 212. With Roy missing due to an injury, Root opened the innings and scored an unbeaten ton as England sealed a comfortable eight-wicket victory. Interestingly, Chris Woakes was sent in at number 3 and the all-rounder managed a decent 40.
England vs Afghanistan: Morgan Overcomes Injury Woes to Break Record
Suffering from back spasms, England skipper Eoin Morgan was intent on playing and he certainly sent a message as he smashed 17 sixes and England broke their own record to post 397/6. They simply batted Afghanistan out of the game, who ended at 247/6 and hosts registered a 150-run victory.
England vs Sri Lanka: Malinga Rolls Back Time as SL Surprise England
The hosts appeared to be making serene progress through to the knockout stages, but in Leeds Sri Lanka sprung a serious surprise.
Mathews’ unbeaten 85 guided Sri Lanka to 232, which didn’t look threatening by any stretch of imagination but England’s chase at Headingley proved beyond them as Lasith Malinga rolled back the years to knock over the top order – still missing the injured Roy – and while Stokes did his best, they ended up 20 runs short.
England vs Australia: Starc and Behrendorff Shine at Lord’s
That was their wake-up call, but England did not rouse from their slumber at Lord’s four days later as Australia gave them a beating at the home of cricket.
Mitchell Starc (4/43) and Jason Behrendorff (5/44) did the damage with the ball and England again fell short in a chase of 286 and suddenly the No.1 side in the world was in danger of being dumped out of their own party.
England vs India: Roy Returns as England Send a Strong Message
With their backs to the wall, England came out swinging. India was unbeaten and backed by a vociferous crowd at Edgbaston but with Roy back in tandem, Jonny Bairstow produced his best knock of the tournament with a century as England set 337/7.
Rohit Sharma produced another ton as was becoming customary at this World Cup, but India fell just short and England was still alive.
England vs New Zealand: England Hammer Blackcaps to Reach Semis in Style
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were all waiting to pounce if England gave them a sniff, and their last game was in Durham against New Zealand. But when they needed to produce their best, they went back to their aggressive best.
Bairstow cracked another century as England won the toss and posted another 300-plus total, their sixth of the group stages. New Zealand was dismissed for 186 with Wood picking three wickets as England reached the final four.
England vs Australia: England Take Sweet Revenge
England saved their best performance for last, beating Australia by eight wickets to hand their old rivals a first-ever World Cup semi-final defeat.
Archer and Chris Woakes did the damage in the first powerplay before Adil Rashid tied up the middle order and it was only Steve Smith’s 85 that got the defending champions to a total of 223.
And when Roy and Bairstow started like trains once again, victory was always going to be theirs, fitting perhaps that skipper Morgan hit the winning runs to take England to a first World Cup final in 27 years.