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England were belligerent but thoughtful against Australia, and not the team that spluttered nervously during the earlier loss to them and Sri Lanka.
England first bowled beautifully and then battered the opposition attack to reach the final and bring to an end Australia's unbeaten run in World Cup semi-finals.
This was England the No. 1 ranked ODI side — belligerent but thoughtful — and not the team that spluttered nervously through losses to Sri Lanka and Australia in the preliminary rounds. Jofra Archer was the last piece in the jig-saw puzzle that England cobbled together over four years but he was the first to put the skids under Australia.
A perfectly placed opening delivery brought a premature end to Aaron Finch's World Cup and cost Australia its review after just seven balls. The often underestimated Chris Woakes then claimed the crucial wicket of David Warner with a searing lifter. He then proceeded to terrorise the hapless Peter Handscomb before putting him out of his misery.
Australia's start was eerily similar to India's but like the losing first semi-finalist they fought back with a gritty partnership from Steven Smith and the fast improving Alex Carey. Smith battened down the hatches to play a Test match style innings while Carey overcame a nasty gash to his jaw — courtesy of yet another arrow straight Archer bouncer — to compile a century stand.
Oz middle-order crumbles
Just when it seemed skipper Eoin Morgan was guilty of sitting back waiting for a wicket rather than being pro-active, Carey provided him with a much needed breakthrough. With the partnership broken Australia's soft middle-order crumbled and when Smith was run out thanks to a laser accurate throw from Jos Buttler and Woakes claimed a pesky Mitchell Starc's wicket, England's first task was satisfactorily completed.
With only a moderate total to chase it was a matter of which England batting side turned up; the jittery one that lost to Sri Lanka and Australia or the confident unit that restored hope with wins over India and New Zealand.
After a watchful start Jason Roy quickly provided the answer. He attacked Starc, deposited Nathan Lyon's first delivery in the stands and then destroyed the last-roll-of-the-dice Smith over with three successive sixes. Roy's return from injury marked the turnaround in England's fortunes and once again he underlined his importance to their campaign.
A century opening stand was just the recipe to settle the England dressing room and Joe Root's silky smooth start to his innings made it a matter of when rather than if England was headed to Lord's. The only hiccup was Roy's dismissal which was followed by an unnecessary outburst from the batsman.
Roy's controversial wicket
However Roy's rant did highlight yet again, one of the big flaws in the DRS. What is the point of employing a system that doesn't achieve one of the stated aims in ensuring the correct decision is arrived at? All that remained was for England to apply the finishing touches. This was duly achieved when appropriately Morgan slashed a boundary to pass Australia's meagre target with a mammoth 107 balls to spare. For a World Cup that appeared early on to be beset by predictability, 2019 has produced some much needed drama in the closing stages. This will be capped on Sunday when a first-time winner will be crowned at Lord's and on form that could well be the home side.
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