England end dismal World Cup defence with a win, NZ through to semi-finals

England’s Ben Stokes plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 one-day international (ODI) match between England and Pakistan.

Reigning champions England ended their torrid World Cup campaign with a 93-run victory over Pakistan on Saturday, denying the 1992 champions the miracle they needed to make it to the last four of the 50-over showpiece tournament.

England have already been eliminated after six defeats in seven games in an inquest that has prompted calls for an overhaul of their one-day squad.

Electing to bat at the Eden Gardens, England racked up a solid 337-9, with three of the top four batsmen breaking fifties in their third 300-plus total of the tournament.

Jonny Bairstow (59), Joe Root (60) and Ben Stokes (84) made half-centuries in a display that left fans wishing the batsmen had made similar efforts more often in the tournament.

Pakistan were all out for 244 in the 44th over and bowed out of the tournament after their fifth defeat in nine matches.

New Zealand joined India, South Africa and Australia in the semi-finals, while England secured a place in the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

“Obviously the tournament hasn’t gone as planned for us as a whole, which is disappointing,” said player of the match David Willey.

“We have a great group of players with huge talent. We have underperformed here, which is disappointing.”

Malan (31) and Bairstow gave England a good start after captain Jos Buttler’s decision to bat.

After the openers departed, Root and Stokes motored even if it wasn’t exactly raining on the boundaries.

Pakistan’s fielding was sloppy with Shaheen Afridi dropping Malan and Stokes off his own bowling, while Haris Rauf caught a skier from Buttler’s one off his shoes touching the boundary rope, making it a six for England.

Set a daunting target, Pakistan found themselves in the absurd position of needing to complete the rout in just 6.4 overs to make the last four ahead of New Zealand.

Willey (3-56), who was playing his last match for England, dismissed both Pakistan openers in his first two matches.

Babar Azam (38) and Mohammad Rizwan (36) got off to a good start but could not build on to bigger totals.

Agha Salman made 51 and lower down the order, Rauf hit three sixes in his entertaining knock of 35 but it didn’t matter much in the end.

“We will sit together and take stock,” Babar said of Pakistan’s campaign.

“We will take positives from this and discuss mistakes. I am eager to lead the rebuild.”

This story was first published by Reuters.

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