Cricket World Cup 2019 semi final, Australia vs England at Edgbaston, Birmingham – Australia is desperate to set up its second final against New Zealand in as many cricket World Cups, but it must first overcome their oldest enemy on their turf, free-scoring favourites England.
Australia was bowled out for just 223 having won the toss and electing to bat fist.
In reply, England is 0-5 after one over with Jason Roy (1) and Jonny Bairstow (4) at the crease.
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After Australia put up the paltry total, Chris Lynn said there was just one way that the side could be saved.
“The only way I can see Australia winning this is if the English batsmen decide to meander through the innings,” he said on Fox Cricket. “But if they fire some cannons, I think we’re in trouble.”
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff
England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
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Steve Smith was promoted to bat at No.3 after Usman Khawaja was ruled out due to injury.
First-drop is where Smith has historically been at his strongest, and Chris Lynn predicted before the match that he will relish in the role again. And he did, topscoring with 85 after Australia lost 3-14 inside seven overs.
“I think he’s just going to come into his own. He loves that accountability to be the match-winner,” Lynn said on Fox Cricket. “He’s been down at four where he’s been a little bit restricted.”
Kerry O’Keeffe expressed some doubts, saying his 12 months away from the game “has hurt him”.
“I don’t think he’s at his best,” he said. “I think his backlift is as big as it’s ever been, I think his reaction time is slower.
“I just think if they (England) get an early pole I just don’t think he’s quite what he was and they will bounce him.”
England did get that early wicket as Australia suffered the worst possible start when opener Aaron Finch was trapped in front by Jofra Archer in the second over for a golden duck. He reviewed the decision, hoping he made contact with his bat first, but ball-tracking showed the ball was going on to hit the top of middle stump.
David Warner (9) was also sent packing in the following over, edging a brilliant seaming delivery from Chris Woakes to first slip.
Peter Handscomb came perilously close to falling for a golden duck to Chris Woakes, surviving England’s lbw review by the tightest of margins.
“Handscomb very lucky to get away with that,” Michael Clarke said of the Australian surviving the lbw review, before touching on Smith’s scratchy start. “Smith just struggling to find any sort of timing.”
Woakes got his man shortly after, bowling him for one.
Alex Carey and Smith breathed life into the innings with a 103-run partnership for the fourth wicket. The former was struck early in his innings by a bouncer by Archer that left him with a deep gash on his jaw that continued to bleed through his innings. He has since been cleared to wicketkeep in the second innings.
Just when the Australians had a reason to be positive again, spinner Adil Rashid snared two wickets inside one over to put them on the ropes again.
Carey (46) was the first to fall in the 28th over, caught on the ropes by sub-fielder James Vince before Marcus Stoinis’ (0) tournament went from bad to worse, trapped in front by Rashid’s wrong-un.
The same could be said for Glenn Maxwell (22) who failed to impress once again, chipping to cover off a well-disguised Archer knuckle ball. The fast bowler said after the innings that Maxwell was his favourite wicket “because he got me back at Lord’s”.
“So I’m glad to get him back,” Archer added.
Pat Cummins (6) joined him in the sheds three overs later, caught at first slip off Rashid.
Smith was one half of another rebuild, this time with Mitchell Starc who contributed to a 51-run stand. Smith’s dream of a century was cut 15 runs short though when Jos Buttler whipped off his glove and threw down the batsman’s stumps at the non-striker’s end. The ball travelled in between Smith’s legs on the way to the stumps, which were rattled with right-hander mere centimetres short of his crease.
Starc (29) was gone the very next ball, caught behind of Woakes. Jason Behrendorff (1) was the last man to go, clean bowled by Mark Wood.
‘THEY WILL COME HARD AT HIM’
Despite some uncertainty, under-fire all-rounder Glenn Maxwell will play in the semi final.
His position was thought to be on shaky ground as teams at this World Cup have repeatedly, and successfully, targeted him with short deliveries.
Maxwell has lost his wicket to a short ball four times this tournament, and Australia legend Mike Hussey believes it’s a concern for the underdogs ahead of the semi final.
“He needs to plan how he’s going to deal with this because I can assure you, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will come hard at him,” Hussey said on Fox Cricket.
“It’s instinctive [for him to play at short balls], so does he keep going at it or does he duck and weave?
“It’s interesting but he’s an X-factor player and for Australia to go an win the World Cup, he can do it playing that X-factor innings.”
Weather forecasters have predicted a high chance of showers in Birmingham from 3pm local time, placing the match’s second innings under threat.
There is a 50 per cent chance of light rain at 3pm, before the likelihood of heavy showers increases to 70 per cent from 4pm.
New Zealand shocked India in a rain-affected two-day clash that catapulted the Black Caps into their second straight final, and the opportunity to atone for their 2015 meltdown.