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“This sets up the finale at The Lord’s very nicely as the cricketing world gears up for a new world champion as the hosts will lock horns with the Blackcaps on Sunday. England will look to extend their comprehensive performance against New Zealand who pulled out a stunner against India in the first semi-final”

A big-stage aficionado’s lone battle, an upcoming youngster’s bloody sacrifice, and a brief, but exciting, batting show from the fastest bowler in the world were, sadly, not enough for the five-time World Champions of the ODI arena to get past the sturdy English channel. The new-age English batting made light work of what was already a below-par total posted by the Kangaroos. The emphatic and dominantly aggressive manner of the chase made it look more mediocre. That’s how the ‘perceived’ crackerjack of a second World Cup semi-final turned into a thoroughly one-sided affair for England.

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The Aussie skipper Aaron Finch won the toss, probably the only sweet memory of the semi-final for the Australians, and rightly decided to bat first. Runs on the board in a high-pressure game always help and something similar was going in Finch’s mind while making that decision but a brilliant new ball spell from the English opening pair of Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes left Australia gasping for breath as early as the first ball of the seventh over by Woakes, which brought down curtains on the brief, but troublesome, stay of Peter Handscomb leaving Australia in a deep hole at 14/3.

Also read: A second chance for New Zealand

David Warner and Aaron Finch, who both had crossed 500-run tally for the tournament, were found wanting against the brilliantly executed plans by the English new-ball duo. While Archer got one to nip back in from the length to exploit Finch’s troubles against incoming deliveries, Warner got one which climbed on him abruptly to catch the outside edge of his willow before settling into the bucket hands of Jonny Bairstow at the first slip to give Woakes his first taste of success for the day.

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That hole prompted Steve Smith to go into the hard grind in the able company of Alex Carey who, for the first time in the competition, was sent at no.5 instead of his usual no.7 position. Smith and Carey’s resurrection effort suffered a bloody jolt by a pin-point accurate lifter from Archer which struck Carey flush on the chin to send his helmet away from his head while leaving a bloodline on the right side of his chin. Despite that gruesome blow, the young stalwart continued to support Smith who notched up his fourth fifty-plus score in as many knock-out World Cup games with the string going back to the 2011 quarter-final against India.

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Just when the things were taking a turn for the bright, a sudden rush of blood from Carey against the leg-spin guile of Adil Rashid led him to hole out on the deep mid-wicket boundary to bring an end to a fine 103-run stand. The final ball of the very same over handed the return ticket to Marcus Stoinis who failed to read a sharp wrong-one from Rashid and was adjudged LBW. Maxwell looked good again but his stay was cut short by some clever bowling from Archer who produced a brilliant execution of the knuckleball to have his Lord’s nemesis caught at short-cover by skipper Morgan, thus exposing Australia’s tail to his fellow bowling mates.

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Joe Root’s brilliant low catch in the slips sent back Pat Cummins while Starc showed some fight to stem the flow of wickets as the Australian total crossed the 200-run mark. Yet again when Smith (85) and Starc (29) were threatening to take their team to a 250-finish, Woakes stood up for his skipper with a double strike in the 48th over to send back both the established batsmen and, in process, effectively quashed all the Australian hopes of a par finish.

223 was all that Australia could manage and it required a top-notch disciplined bowling effort, and also some luck in the form of loose batting from Englishmen if Australians harboured any hopes of a fightback. Alas! None of the two could come to Australia’s rescue as Jason Roy (85) and Jonny Bairstow (34) mixed caution with aggression as England compiled 50 runs without losing a wicket in the opening powerplay. Even at this point in the match, Australians had a chance but even those slightest of the hopes went for the toss as the English opening pair cranked up the scoring rate between the overs 11-20.

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That period of 10 overs saw England plunder 97 runs for the loss of both the openers. Even those two wickets came very late as the remaining ask of 76 runs was made a cake-walk by the experienced duo of Joe Root and Eoin Morgan who both finished unbeaten on the respective scores of 49 and 45 as their team cantered home for a final-berth after a long wait of 27 years. Such was the dominance of England batsmen that the target was chased down on the first ball of the 33rd over, leaving a full 107 balls to spare.

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This sets up the finale at The Lord’s very nicely as the cricketing world gears up for a new world champion as the hosts will lock horns with the Blackcaps on Sunday. England will look to extend their comprehensive performance against New Zealand who pulled out a stunner against India in the first semi-final. The only thing which England need to be wary off is them becoming complacent as was the case against Sri Lanka in the league stage. As of now, there is plenty of reasons for revelry in the host land while Kangaroos will look to fine-tune their preparations for the big stage Ashes coming up in August.

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