England won the toss, put Australia to bat first

BIRMINGHAM: Unbeaten England won the toss and choose to field first as they look to send Australia home in their last group match of the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Australia, yet to finish a match in the tournament, need to win the match to qualify for the semifinals. A defeat or a washout would send Steve Smith’s men home, paving way for Bangladesh to progress to the semifinals.

England, meanwhile, have already secured their berth in the semis and would look to continue their momentum against old foes Australia.

Smith’s side contains several proven match-winners and the skipper said he expected his team to raise their game on Saturday.

“Obviously, it´s a must-win match for us … essentially a quarter-final,” said the star batsman.

“That usually does bring out the best of the Australia cricket team in big tournaments. So let´s hope that is the case.”

Australia beat England easily en route to winning the 2015 World Cup but an admiring Smith said: “I think they have come a long way.

“We are certainly going to have to be at our best if we´re going to beat them.”

Meanwhile England captain Eoin Morgan has labelled Saturday´s match his personal equivalent of the Ashes.

The former Ireland batsman does not expect to add to his tally of 16 Test caps, with the Middlesex left-hander´s international focus now firmly on white-ball cricket.

“I´ve been in a position where I haven´t played in Ashes cricket,” said Morgan. “If you never get to play in an Ashes game, this is the closest you will ever get to beating an Australia team.”

Although his side are already into the last four, Morgan sees Saturday´s match as important staging post on the road to the 2019 World Cup in England.

“If we´re looking to win this tournament and go beyond and win the World Cup, we need to be beating the best sides in the world — and Australia at the moment are one of them,” he said.

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Azhar Hashmi

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