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All pressure on England, roars Aussie bowler Lyon


Lyon’s share: Nathan Lyon (right) celebrates with Mitchell Starc and team-mates after taking the wicket of Quinton de Kock of South Africa, but the Aussies fell to defeat regardless
Lyon’s share: Nathan Lyon (right) celebrates with Mitchell Starc and team-mates after taking the wicket of Quinton de Kock of South Africa, but the Aussies fell to defeat regardless

By David Charlesworth

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon has put the pressure on England, claiming "it's their World Cup to lose" ahead of a monumental semi-final showdown at Edgbaston on Thursday.

The defending champions were denied top spot in the group after a 10-run defeat to South Africa on Saturday, a result which means the Ashes rivals will go head-to-head for the right to progress to the Lord's final on July 14.

Despite finishing ahead of Eoin Morgan's side in the table, Lyon is adamant that there is no burden on Australia's shoulders because England are the tournament hosts and are the top-ranked one-day side in the world.

The off-spinner said: "They're full of world-class players and they've been the No.1 team for a couple of years now.

"They should be going into this World Cup as favourites, it's all on them. It's their World Cup to lose if you ask me.

"We've got nothing to lose, we've only got stuff to gain. That's the exciting thing about it.

"I feel like there's a very special thing just around the corner for us Australian cricketers and the whole Australian public, to be honest.

"Our momentum, even though it got halted a little bit, we're training our backsides off, we'll prepare well, we'll have elite professionalism and make sure that, come Thursday, we're firing."

Mitchell Starc's two for 59 against the Proteas moved him to 26 wickets, equalling compatriot Glenn McGrath's all-time record for most scalps in one tournament.

Despite aggravating his right ankle by landing awkwardly in a foothole, the left-arm paceman is optimistic he will be available to face England.

He said: "I'm all good. Bowling is hard, it's painful at times.

"I had a bit of ice on it but it's pretty good. Let's see how it pulls up (on Sunday) morning but I'm feeling pretty confident with it all and have been throughout the tournament so far."

Australia overcame England at Lord's earlier in the tournament and Starc believes the foundations of that win could be used in Birmingham.

He said: "The blueprint the last time we played England was to take early wickets.

"They'll get Jason Roy back for the fixture, so we're going to have a few days now to discuss if we need to change anything but I think the way we played England last time was a great blueprint moving forward."

In Australia's 64-run victory on June 25, Starc was able to unsettle Morgan with the short ball, leading to the England captain attempting to hook his way out of trouble only to find the fielder in the deep.

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen suggested afterwards Morgan may be scared of facing Starc, who is uncertain of that notion but talked up the prospect of another bumper barrage.

When asked whether Morgan is afraid of him, Starc responded: "I don't know, is he? You'll have to ask him.

"I think the short ball has worked to a lot of people in the World Cup. It's definitely a plan for some guys who have got a bit of extra pace. Slower bouncer as well. I guess we'll have to assess where the wicket is; is it short side or long side? Whether it's got some pace or not and see if we can get Eoin one way or another again."

Matthew Wade and Mitch Marsh will join the Australian squad as cover for injured pair Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis.

Khawaja was troubled by a problem to his left hamstring which led to him retiring hurt in defeat to South Africa on Saturday although the batsman did take to the field again in the closing stages at Old Trafford.

Australia revealed yesterday the injury is likely to preclude his involvement for the remainder of the tournament, while Stoinis' side complaint leaves him doubtful for Thursday's semi-final against England.

Wade and Marsh will therefore leave the Australia A party currently touring England to link up with the 15-man World Cup group - although neither will become a formal part of the squad yet.

A statement from Cricket Australia said: "Both Khawaja and Stoinis are set to undergo scans today before their future in the World Cup is determined, with both players still officially a part of Australia's 15-man Cup squad at this stage.

"However, it appears Khawaja's hamstring injury looks likely to rule the left-hander out for the rest of Australia's campaign."

Marsh links up with the World Cup squad for a second time as cover for Stoinis, who missed Australia's wins over Pakistan and Sri Lanka last month because of a side injury before returning against Bangladesh.

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