Australia seal semifinal berth in WC, beat England by 64 runs


(Online Desk)

Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc collaborated to compliment a superb ton from Aaron Finch as Australia became the first side to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019 semifinals with a 64-run win over England at Lord’s on Tuesday (June 25). Set 286 on a slightly challenging track, England were able to manage just 221 and botched their third chase in the tournament. Starc and Behrendorff shared nine wickets between them as England’s chase got over in 44.4 overs.

It all went wrong for England pretty early in the chase. The hosts, clearly feeling the absence of Jason Roy, got another poor start as James was ‘Vinced’ even before he was able to open his account. Even with the hype around Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, all exceptional no doubt, it was the use of the track by the visiting pacers that created the buzz on the afternoon.

Australia’s opening quicks – Behrendorff and Starc – bowled a lot fuller than the England pacers and reaped rich returns. Vince was bowled on the second ball of the chase when he was late on a full inswinging delivery from Behrendorff. Joe Root kept chasing the wide ones and was set up by Starc as he was pinged by a full delivery coming in. Starc, however, then left another body blow as he had Eoin Morgan hooking and had the England captain caught at a very fine fine-leg.

From 26 for 3, Jonny Bairstow collaborated with Ben Stokes and took the team past 50. Bairstow then pulled Behrendorff to deep midwicket to leave the side wobbling. Jos Buttler picked an absolutely ordinary delivery to get out as he pulled a back of length ball, bowled at 126 kph, from Marcus Stoinis to square leg. At 124 for 5, things looked bleak for England. Woakes joined Stokes to keep the side afloat – as the duo scored 53 for the sixth wicket – before a peach nipped out the latter.

Starc fired a yorker to beat Stokes for pace as the batsman lost his bat after jamming it on the ground after the ball had passed. Moeen Ali struck a boundary and then edged the next one the ‘keeper to give Behrendorff his third in the game. From 189 for 7, with three left for Starc in the last powerplay, England had no chance. Behrendorff completed his maiden five-fer with the wicket of Archer in the 44th over while Starc ended with four as Australia wrapped up their sixth win in seven games.

Australia, though, owe their win to their captain. Finch’s 116-ball 100 laid the foundation for the challenging score. Both openers were lucky with England quicks constantly banging in length deliveries to create trouble. Finch survived an lbw review while Warner poked, nudged, drove and constantly missed. Despite that, Australia cantered to 42 for no loss at the end of the first powerplay.

The key for Australia was the length England bowled. On a track where they should have been fuller, they let the side down by sticking to length deliveries. Warner scored a half-century and also went past 500 runs in the tournament before falling for 53. Usman Khawaja’s wild swipe didn’t help as he lost his poles to Stokes. Finch got to his ton in the 36th over but was out pulling Archer on the very next delivery.

From there on, Australia just failed to find the next gear and kick on to go past 300. In the first 22 overs, Australia didn’t lose a wicket. In the next 25, they lost seven to help England make a comeback in the game. Glenn Maxwell’s assault didn’t last long while Steve Smith, Stoinis, Pat Cummins and Starc failed to use the platform. Alex Cary got a few hits in – ending unbeaten on 38 off 27 – to give the bowlers the much-needed additional cushion.

Brief scores: Australia 285/7 in 50 overs (Aaron Finch 100; Chris Woakes 2-46) beat England 221 in 44.4 overs (Ben Stokes 89; Jason Behrendorff 5-44, Mitchell Starc 4-44) by 64 runs.