Birmingham: England dethroned defending champions Australia through a stunning eight-wicket victory at the Edgbaston to meet New Zealand in the final at Lord’s on Sunday, guaranteeing a first-time winner. Firecrackers were let loose by the organisers following England’s triumph after Australia’s plans exploded at Edgbaston.
Australia could post a score of just 223 runs in 49 overs, which was not sufficient to put England under pressure. Openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, capitalising on the easy target, put on a 124 runs partnership in 17.1 overs.
Roy, who is tremendous form, hit his third consecutive half-century after his scores of 66 against India and 60 against New Zealand. He reached his half century in 50 balls and went on to score a sparkling 85 off just 65 balls. He batted with such authority that he cracked nine boundaries and five sixes in his fluent innings.
Though Australia’s striker bowler Mitchell Starc tried his best, he could break the partnership only while returning for his third spell. He trapped Bairstow (34) with a ball that nipped in. Roy’s dismissal happened after drama on the field. Going for a pull off Cummins, he was declared caught by wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Roy lost his cool as ultra-edge did show a flat line and so he refused to leave the field despite the review decision. Will his act cost his place in the final on disciplinary lines, one will have to wait and see.
Roy had carried England to a stage where they needed only another 77 runs from the next 30 overs. Skipper Eoin Morgan and Joe Root put on an unbroken 79-run partnership in 12.3 overs. Morgan, hitting the winning boundary to mid-on off Jason Behrendorff, booked his team’s place in the final and said: “It is an opportunity for us on Sunday, a huge one at that too. It is a massive leap from where we were in 2015. Everyone in that dressing room must take a lot of credit for that.”
England announced that Edgbaston is their favourite ground, winning their last 11 games while Australia will remain winless across all formats in this ground since 2002.
Steve Smith proved how valuable a player he is for Australia. The man, who had let down Australia through the unsporting act of ball-tampering and was subsequently banned for an year, fought valiantly for his country’s pride. Through a fighting knock of 85 off 119 balls, he became the only player to hit a half century in Australia’s innings. He also put on a 103-run partnership in 21.1 overs with wicketkeeper batsman Alex Carey (46) for the fourth wicket, lifting Australia, who had slipped to 14 for 3 in 6.1 overs.
Smith also added another 39 runs for the sixth wicket with Glenn Maxwell (22) and another 51 for the eighth wicket with Mitchell Starc (29). The former disgraced Australian captain stood like a rock while England bowlers kept striking at frequent intervals through their medium-pacer Chris Woakes and leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who both bagged three wickets. They were backed by Barbados-born pacer Jofra Archer, who took the prize wickets of Australia skipper Aaron Finch for a duck and the explosive Maxwell. Smith fought till the first ball of the 48th over when he got run out in a dramatic manner. Going for a pull, Smith missed it and the ball deflected off his body and while trying to steal a leg bye, wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, after removing his wicketkeeping glove, threw at the non-striker’s end and his direct-hit found Smith short of crease.
It was indeed a brilliant show by the England bowlers starting from the first ball of the second over when Archer trapped Finch with a lovely inswinger. Finch did review the decision, which also went against him. Australia were in for a bigger shock when their consistent star-batsman David Warner (9) was bounced out by Woakes. The ball caught the shoulder of the bat and Bairstow took the sharp chance.
Peter Handscomb, who came in place of injured Usman Khawaja, lasted only 12 balls, and paid the price for leaving a bat and pad gap to hit the stumps.