• Easy win over Aussies puts England in World Cup final

    England booked a berth in the 2019 World Cup final after Thursday’s comfortable eight-wicket victory over Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham.

    This second semi-final proved relatively one-sided, after Australia posted an underwhelming 223 all out, after which England raced to 226-2 inside 33 overs.

    Opener Jason Roy led England’s pursuit with a characteristically brisk 85, which featured nine fours and five sixes – and spanned a mere 65 deliveries. The hard-hitting right-hander lofted leg-spinner Steven Smith for three consecutive sixes during a particularly lucrative over for the English.

    Roy was eventually dismissed in controversial circumstances – deemed caught-behind by wicketkeeper Alex Carey despite television replays suggesting otherwise. Roy questioned umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s decision before leaving the field in a huff.

    His and fellow opener Jonny Bairstow’s exits brought captain Eoin Morgan and middle-order kingpin Joe Root to the crease. The pair were prompt and thorough in completing the pursuit against a rather uninspired opposition bowling attack, with all of 107 deliveries to spare.

    Earlier, captain Aaron Finch’s decision to bat first after winning the toss didn’t go according to plan.

    Finch perished for a first-ball duck to fast bowler Jofra Archer despite an lbw review, while fellow opener David Warner failed to successfully negotiate some steep bounce generated by seamer Chris Woakes. The recalled Peter Handscomb, who replaced the injured Usman Khawaja, was then bowled by Woakes.

    Smith and Carey orchestrated a recovery, of sorts, during a 103-run alliance for the fourth wicket. Carey wore head strapping for the bulk of the innings, after copping a painful blow from Archer’s bouncer.

    Carey’s eventual dismissal for 46 brought the all-rounders to the crease, but trio Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Pat Cummins shared a mere 28 runs. What Archer and Woakes started, leg-spinner Adil Rashid continued with three key wickets.

    Smith stood firm throughout and relished solid support from all-rounder Mitchell Starc. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s sharp run-out of Smith for 85, though, ended the resilience.

    England will meet New Zealand in Sunday’s final at Lord’s in London. The Black Caps beat India in Tuesday and Wednesday’s rain-affected first semi-final.

    Neither boast a World Cup title. New Zealand lost to Australia in the 2015 final. England suffered final defeats by the West Indies, Australia and Pakistan in 1979, 1987 and 1992, respectively.


    Photo: Getty Images

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