Christchurch: England's chances of qualifying for the semi-finals of the ICC Under- 19s World Cup took a nosedive when tournament favourites Australia crushed it by 116 runs here on Wednesday.
Another near perfect performance from Australia saw England totally outplayed at Hagley Oval, and it must now beat South Africa on Friday, and hope New Zealand loses to Australia, in order to qualify for the last four. England must beat South Africa comprehensively and pick up a bonus point to edge ahead of its rivals into second spot as its run rate is the poorest in the group. However, England scarcely deserve a place in the semi-finals after losing yet against to a Test playing nation, and the fact its only wins in this competition have come against Nepal and Papua New Guinea gives a clear indication of its form. A sloppy performance in the field, which saw three catches spilled, allowed Australia to post a commanding 281 for five from its 50 overs with 71 runs added in a disastrous final five overs for England. George Bailey swiped 69 runs off 55 balls and Craig Simmons made 67 as Australia posted the highest score so far in Christchurch. England needed to get off to a good start to stand any hope of victory but it lost opener Kadeer Ali with 28 on the board, and after his dismissal it lost wickets at regular intervals with only captain Nicky Peng (57) offering some resistance. Left-arm spinner Beau Casson finished with 4 for 33 and Jarrad Burke 3 for 13 for Australia as England succumbed for 165. England manager James Whittaker was clearly angered by his side's performance, but still held out some hope that his side could make the semi-finals. "If we beat South Africa we stand a chance but to do that we will have to raise our game considerably," he said. "South Africa is a reasonable side and we will have to improve in several areas. "We knew this would be a tough game but I expected a little more resilience from us. "We dropped three catches and I would have liked to have seen a little more fight in our middle order. We will have to think quite hard about the personnel in the team and decide who deserves to play on Friday." Also on Wednesday, New Zealand squandered the opportunity to seal its spot in the next round when it lost to South Africa by 24 runs. After narrowly defeating England at the start of the week New Zealand went into the game full of confidence against a South African side recently mauled by Australia. New Zealand got off to a good start reducing its opponents to 85 for 4 but a fifth wicket stand worth 140 between Ryan Bailey (69) and David Jacobs enabled South Africa to make 241 for seven. In reply, New Zealand looked comfortable at 88 for one but a mid-innings collapse saw it slip to 191 for seven as the game turned South Africa's way. Four run outs hardly helped New Zealand's cause.
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