Australia bowled out for 223

2019-07-11 at 18:54

Australia’s perfect record in World Cup semi-finals is in jeopardy, limping to 223 in their knockout clash with England at Edgbaston with only a determined lone hand from Steve Smith keeping the reigning champions afloat.

Smith struck 85 off 119 balls to maintain his immaculate record in knockout World Cup games after being promoted to bat at No.3 in Usman Khawaja’s absence, rescuing Australia after they’d been blown away by the new ball.

But he found little support as Chris Woakes (3-20 off eight overs) and Jofra Archer (2-32 off 10) grabbed early wickets before Adil Rashid (3-54 off 10) spun a web through the middle overs to see the reigning champions bowled out with an over to spare.

England haven’t won a knockout World Cup game since 1992, but the world’s No.1 ranked ODI side will be confident of chasing down 224 on a fast, bouncy Edgbaston surface.

Criticised for bowling too short with the new ball against Australia at Lord’s last month, Archer and Woakes delivered tremendous opening spells that left the visitors’ top order, and Alex Carey’s chin, in tatters.

The England duo bowled half as many back-of-a-length deliveries as they did in that group stage clash with Australia, per Opta, and were rewarded with the scalps of star openers Aaron Finch, David Warner, as well as Peter Handscomb, inside the seven overs of the game.

An Archer bouncer left Carey needing a Rick McCosker-esque bandage wrapped around his head to stem the bleeding.

The wicketkeeper, who courageously batted on to record 103 for the fourth wicket with Smith, required stitches but will be fine to take the gloves for England’s innings.

Finch won what many had deemed a crucial toss and batted, but their supposed advantaged was immediately erased as Woakes and Archer took a flamethrower to Australia’s top-order, reducing them to 3-14 to spark the electric Edgbaston crowd, full in voice if not quite in number.

Finch became the first captain ever to make a golden duck in a knockout World Cup game when Archer’s opening delivery found a familiar route past his defensive poke and into his front pad.

It became a double blow when the skipper burnt his side’s only review trying to overturn the call.

Warner looked ominous by smashing Woakes for four back over his head, but the right-armer found his edge with a lifter and had him caught at first slip.

When World Cup debutant Handscomb, at the crease earlier than he’d ever been before in an ODI, was bowled by Woakes for four after a scratchy 12-ball knock and his replacement Carey was left requiring constant medical attention, Australia looked in deep trouble.

Carey and Smith diligently dug the Aussies out of a hole, the former ‘s brave stint was ended when he chipped Rashid to deep mid-wicket.

Rashid soon had 2-5 in two overs, as Marcus Stoinis’ rough campaign with the bat continued when he failed to pick a wrong’un and was out lbw for a second-ball duck, bringing his tournament run tally to 87 at 14.50. It was the fifth time the allrounder has gotten out to Rashid in 10 ODIs against him.

Glenn Maxwell, pushed down to No.7 having fared little better throughout the World Cup than Stoinis, charged at Rashid and popped him over long-on for six, before chipping one straight to cover off Archer. The mercurial right-hander now has 177 runs at 22.12 for the tournament.

Smith held things together on the way to a 72-ball half-century, finding some late support from Mitchell Starc (29 off 39), but the loss of 4-49 through their middle overs proved damaging.

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler then ran Smith out with a direct hit as a century beckoned, with the Aussies losing 3-6 in 12 balls to finish with barely a whimper.