England suffered a shock defeat by Sri Lanka on Friday which damages their hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time.
The loss is England’s second of the group stage but it is not fatal.
The pre-tournament favourites remain third in the table on eight points with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals.
However, their chances are made significantly harder by the fact their three remaining games are against Australia, India and New Zealand, arguably their three biggest rivals for the title.
England would have to win all three games to guarantee a semi-final place, although two wins would likely be enough because of their superior net run-rate – the method used to separate teams level on points.
Similarly, one win could be enough for Eoin Morgan’s men but they would be relying on results to go in their favour.
There’s one problem, however. England have not beaten Australia, New Zealand or India in the World Cup since 1992.
|World Cup group table|
The remaining fixtures
Australia: England, New Zealand, South Africa.
New Zealand: West Indies, Pakistan, Australia, England.
England: Australia, India, New Zealand.
India: Afghanistan, West Indies, England, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka: South Africa, West Indies, India.
Bangladesh: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan.
West Indies: New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan.
‘The cat is among the pigeons’
England were strong favourites to beat Sri Lanka at Headingley and their hopes were boosted further when they restricted their opponents to 232-9 from 50 overs.
But England batted poorly with a number of loose shots and former England captain Michael Vaughan said they did not play “smart cricket”.
“The cat is among the pigeons,” Vaughan told Test Match Special. “England are under a huge amount of pressure now.
“The Aussies are playing nicely and then England play India at Edgbaston. We have seen the pitch at Edgbaston, I am not sure they would choose that pitch to play India on.
“What this England team have been very good at is, when they have had disappointments, had games when they didn’t arrive and play as well as can, they bounce back.”
Morgan told Test Match Special his side would continue to play in the attacking manner which has taken them to number one in the world, despite criticism of their approach against Sri Lanka.
“Hopefully we bounce back on Tuesday [against Australia] with an aggressive option with bat and ball,” the England captain said.
“We spoke before the tournament started that we would lose games on the way. What we go back to is our strengths.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew:
You could argue that the tournament needed a shock and it certainly has had one.
For England it is a major disappointment. They had the opportunities to win, but you look at the shot selection of players like Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer, and you can also look at how the likes of Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid got out when Ben Stokes was going well at the other end.
They now know that their leeway is running out. The way the table looks, one win from their remaining three games should mean they are alright, but that is Australia, India and New Zealand.
They will be tough. On the other hand, if you turn it around and say if they win those three, they will be on a roll going into the semi-finals.
It’s not total doom and gloom, but can they continue playing with the same confidence when they know that one more mistake could cost them.
Could defeat actually be a blessing in disguise?
While England, as hosts and favourites, might have expected to win the group, finishing fourth may be better than second or third for their prospects of reaching the final at Lord’s on 14 July.
The first semi-final, on 9 July, sees the group winners take on fourth-place at Old Trafford, with second and third meeting at Edgbaston on 11 July.
England’s style of cricket is arguably more suited to Old Trafford, where skipper Eoin Morgan broke the one-day sixes record earlier this week, than Edgbaston which may favour the likes of India with their spin bowling attack.
So – as strange as it may seem – defeat may turn out to be a blessing…
Article courtesy of BBC Sport