LONDON • Eoin Morgan on Tuesday denied former captain Kevin Pietersen's claims he was "scared" when batting, but admitted England's confidence had dipped following the 64-run defeat to Australia that has left their Cricket World Cup hopes in the balance.
While the defending champions secured a semi-final berth with 12 points after their sixth win, England must beat India and New Zealand in their final round-robin matches to keep the chasing pack of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan at bay.
This high-pressure scenario for the 50-over world No. 1 side comes after an initially fruitless morning with the ball, allowing Australia to post 285 for seven before limping to 221 all out from 44.4 overs in the chase at Lord's on Tuesday.
"Confidence isn't where it was at the start of the tournament," said Morgan, whose side have now lost three matches while chasing, previously their strong suit in one-day international (ODI) cricket.
"Both this game and the defeat to Sri Lanka, we struggled with the basics of our batting mantra - strong intent, building partnerships and doing it in our own way."
However, the England captain refused to hit the panic button over their chances of making it to the knockout phase, insisting that "everything is within our control".
The batsman added: "We are in charge of how we go from here on in. We win two games, we definitely go through. We're not feeling the pressure of being favourites."
England opening batsman James Vince's score in the loss to Australia on Tuesday. He has scored just 40 runs in three matches since replacing the injured Jason Roy.
Morgan was himself caught on the hook for four off Mitchell Starc during a top-order collapse of 54 for four, with Pietersen suggesting he had backed away when facing the left-armer's first delivery.
The retired South African-born batsman also tweeted it was a "horror sign" and he had not seen a "captain show such a weakness for a while".
But his former teammate Morgan refuted the accusations, claiming "it didn't feel like that at all".
While England face a must-win match with India on Sunday, they received some good news yesterday after the England and Wales Cricket Board revealed that Jason Roy was "making good progress" to return from a hamstring injury.
The opener has missed the last three games and his presence has been badly missed, having passed 50 in five of his past six ODIs.
His replacement James Vince has scored 26, 14 and fell for a duck in the second ball on Tuesday.
Australia, though, revelled in the achievement of becoming the first side to qualify for the final four.
Captain Aaron Finch, who top-scored with 100 in a man-of-the-match performance, shared a stand of 123 with David Warner (53), the tournament's top run scorer on 500, as the openers came through some testing early overs.
Finch praised his teammates for "ticking off the first bit".
"You don't win the tournament if you don't reach the semis," he said. "England are a stand-out side, they are a team that can take you apart at stages. We found ways to keep getting wickets."
The recalled Jason Behrendorff, in just his second match, took 5-44 while Starc took 4-43 to become the top bowler with 19 scalps.
Revealing a confrontation with an England fan at breakfast that had fired him up, Starc said: "Someone was having a go at my strapping tape and me eating too much, and how it was going to affect my bowling. I was just hungry."
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