England cruise to World Cup final



Rex Clementine in Birmingham

England qualified for the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup in style thrashing old rivals Australia with eight wickets and more than 17 overs to spare in Birmingham yesterday. This World Cup will have a new winner as both New Zealand and England have not lifted the sport’s coveted trophy since it was first introduced in 1975. A full house is expected at Lord’s on Sunday with the hosts qualifying for their first World Cup final in 27 years.

Most neutral fans will be rooting for New Zealand on Sunday for obvious reasons. England won the football World Cup once in 1966 and for more than 50 years they have been boasting about how good their team was. A repetition of that in cricket will be unbearable. Local fans however can take heart by the fact that Sri Lanka beat England during the group stages of the tournament.

Jason Roy perhaps played the knock of the World Cup smashing 85 off 65 balls with nine fours and five sixes. He was on course for a hundred before being wrongly given out. Australia successfully appealed for a caught behind down the leg-side off the bowling of Pat Cummins in the 20th over, but the bat was nowhere near the ball. England had exhausted their review and Roy walked back angrily after exchanging a few words with the umpires. He will probably be penalized by Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle for showing dissent.

Umpire Kumar Dharmasena had an excellent game until that point and that may well have cost him a place in the finals at the home of cricket. Dharmasena officiated in the last World Cup final too at MCG and not so long ago was ranked world’s best umpire.

Australia, the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of this World Cup, failed to show up yesterday. It was the first semi-final the five time champions had lost. Australia had lost two finals before this but never a semi-final.

Their total of 223 all out in 49 overs proved to be inadequate as England went at a breakneck speed. Roy and Jonny Bairstow added 124 runs for the first wicket before Mitchell Starc trapped Bairstow (34) leg before wicket.

Joe Root (49*) and Eoin Morgan (45*) then were involved in an unfinished 79 run stand for the third wicket to finish the job for the team with Morgan bringing up the win with a boundary.

Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes were on the money dismissing the openers cheaply after Australia elected to bat first. Soon the Aussies were 14 for three and driving on that momentum, the hosts knocked the old enemy out of the competition.

A partnership of 103 runs for the fourth wicket between Alex Carey and Steven Smith kept the Aussies interested but Adil Rashid’s leg-spin accounted for three wickets to keep Australia’s total below 225.

Woakes and Rashid finished with three wickets each.

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