World Cup Cricket / Superb England storm into World Cup final

image_titleEngland opener Jason Roy smacks a six during their ICC World Cup semi-final match against Australia at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Thursday. — Reuters photo
Two decades after the closest semi-final of all time at this ground in 1999, when a tie against South Africa had secured Australia’s passage to the final, there was no such drama this time around.
England crushed Australia by eight wickets on Thursday to set up a final against New Zealand, ensuring that there will be a new champion in 2019, joining West Indies, India, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
It was an anti-climax at Edgbaston when Australia were completely outplayed unlike the other semi-final in Old Trafford that tested the nerves of both the participating teams, India and New Zealand, with the Black Caps winning a cliff-hanger. 
The first ball of the game had given no indication of what was to follow as David Warner drove Chris Woakes confidently through the cover for four.
England were on top ever since Jofra Archer’s first delivery in the second over struck Aaron Finch plumb in front to hand the Australian captain a duck, having made a century in previous two meetings between the two teams in World Cup.
Woakes sent back Warner and rattled the defences of Peter Handscomb, who was playing his first game replacing injured Shaun Marsh, soon to leave Australia 14-3.
Steve Smith lifted Australia to 223 all out with his defiant 85 off 119 to leave some fans licking their lips with a hope to watch another low-scoring thriller but a ruthless England nipped that prospect in the bud.
England had the chance to take a calm approach with a not so great target, but Eoin Morgan’s men knew only one way to play and that was playing aggressively to bat out the opponents. 
Since their humiliating exit in 2015 with a defeat against Bangladesh, England rose to the top of the rankings playing this way and they found no reason to change it in the World Cup semi-final.
A 124-run opening stand between Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow in little over 17 overs took the charm out of the contest, leaving the rest just a mere formality.  
Roy, who made highest 85 off 65 balls, dealt Smith’s hopes of turning the match with the ball mercilessly, hitting him for three successive sixes including one over long on that landed in the top tier.
Mitchell Starc got Bairstow leg before for 34 to break the stand, raising his tournament tally to a record 27 before Pat Cummins had Roy but they were just consolation as Joe Root (49 not out) and Morgan (45 not out) took England through.
Morgan hailed his two openers, Roy and Bairstow, who now got three consecutive century partnerships in the World Cup, for giving his side a flying start.
‘Roy and Jonny at the top of the order are really imposing when they get themselves in. They are in the form of their lives and they take advantage of that,’ he said.
Morgan was just a six-year old boy when England played their last World Cup final in 1992 and was in charge of the team that got a hammering from Bangladesh four years ago in Adelaide.
‘I was six in 1992, I don’t remember it, but I have seen a lot of it in the highlights,’ he said.
‘It is an opportunity for us on Sunday, a huge one at that too. Looking back at where we were in 2015 and looking ahead to Sunday is a dramatic improvement,’ he added.
England could not have done any better at this stage.
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