England cruised into their first ICC World Cup final since 1992 with a crushing eight-wicket win over defending champions Australia at Birmingham on Thursday.
The victory was set up by a fiery opening spell of fast-bowling from Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer, who ran through the Australian top order and eventually saw them dismissed for 221 inside of 50 overs.
Openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow (34) then made light work of the total with a 124-run partnership which set the English on their march to the final.
Roy hit a 65-ball 85, including nine fours and five sixes, and was unlucky to be adjudged caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Alex Carey off a Pat Cummins bouncer down the leg side which replays showed he didn’t touch. His challenge of the bad decision by umpire Kumar Dharmasena may yet cost him as he could possible face a ban or even a fine. By then, however, with the score on 147 for two, the result was never in question.
Joe Root (49*) and skipper Eoin Morgan (45*) had the honour of putting the final on a good day’s work to the delight of the home fans, who have been waiting to see this team get to Lord’s for years now,
Skipper Morgan’s side will now meet New Zealand in the final Sunday at Lord’s.
Earlier, opening pacers Archer and Woakes rocked the Aussies’ foundation early in the proceedings. Archer had skipper Aaron Finch trapped lbw off the very first ball he faced before David Warner, who had a chance to surpass India’s Rohit Sharma as the leading run-scorer, was dismissed two runs short of that mark when he edged Woakes to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for nine. Peter Handscomb, in his first game, followed quickly after, bowled by Woakes, to leave the Aussies reeling at 14 for three.
Alex Carey joined Smith and the two shared a 103-run fourth partnership to engineer a rebuilding drive of sorts. Carey, who received treatment after he was struck on the chin by a sharp rising delivery from Archer which drew blood off the third ball he faced, fought on from that point, when he was on just four, to get 46 from 70 balls with four fours.
But when Carey became the first wicket of leg-spinner Adil Rashid, his wicket also brought that of Marcus Stoinis, trapped in front for a duck, in the same over and the Aussies again slipped to 118 for five.
After that, Smith, whose 85 came off 119 balls and included six fours, only got help from Glenn Maxwell (22) and Mitchell Starc (29) before he was run out at the non-striker’s end going for a quick single with Starc by a brilliant throw from Buttler towards the end.
Woakes was the best England bowler with three for 20, Rashid added three for 54 and Archer two for 32.
AUSTRALIA 221 (49) (Steve Smith 85, Alex Carey 46, Chris Woakes 3/20, Adil Rashid 3/54) v ENGLAND 226-2 (32.1) (Jason Roy 85, Joe Root 49, Eoin Morgan 45, Pat Cummins 1/34)
RESULT: England won by 8 wickets