Post a traumatic exile of the last Asian sub contingent in form of India from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, all eyes turned towards Birmingham where the Ashes rivals competed against each other to book the last berth at The Lord’s and fancy their chances to hold the prestigious trophy.
The hosts England, on a two-match winning streak against India & the finalists – Kiwis hoped to get a step closer towards the coveted trophy. Though the home side impressed the world post their traumatic exit from the last edition of the tournament in 2015. Their Ashes rivals – Australia looked to change their fortunes after an unexpected outing against the Proteas in their last group game where they fell short off the target by a mere 10 runs had many critics & challenges ahead of their semifinals encounter.
The drawback of the Kangaroos, being bowled out for 4 times in their 9 league matches haunted them in Birmingham too as the hosts outplayed them in the 1st innings dismissing the defending champions for 223 (49). A dominating performance with the ball – equally chipped through their front-line pace bowlers comprising of Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer & Mark Wood dominated the strong Aussie side on paper. A similar economical & wicket taking spell earlier in the competition saw the finalists- Kiwi side bundled for 186 off their 45 over chasing a target of 305. The action returned to Birmingham post week & a half since India had defeated Bangladesh and booked their semifinal spot.
Aaron Finch who secured Australia’s semifinal berth post defeating England elected to bat first as the previous two results on the ground benefited the team doing so. The start, however was least expected by the skipper as they were reduced to 14/3 in the 7th over itself. Woakes & Archer started the proceedings for the English side much similar to the crowd gathered at Birmingham.
Aussies created an unwanted record of lowest score against hosts in powerplay (27/3) in their initial 10 overs. The English pace-duo continued their blowing over the Aussie batsmen by keeping the run-rate under control. Smith-Carey sniffed a golden chance for a much required turn-over essential for their team after Mark Wood & Ben Stokes were been introduced by Eoin Morgan in the match. Soon gears were shifted and Baggy Greens completed a solid 50-run partnership which helped the Kangaroos to get into the groove.
Smith completed his 23rd ODI fifty and couldn’t wish for a bigger platform to do so. The ex-skipper was aware that the job was half-done and the situation demanded more special from him. Adil Rashid was successful to provide a much necessary breakthrough for the English side in the 28th over by a fancied delivery which forced the WK-batsmen to play a lofted shot, only to be caught by James Vince in the deep.
Australia desperately required an explosive outing from one end to support Smith. The all-rounder had a job on the cards to not only play a supportive role in the middle, but also to accelerate the Aussie innings. Maxwell had opened the innings of that hope by smashing the first maximum of the innings. Eoin Morgan soon extinguished by re-launching the pace of Jofra who had serious wounds on the opposition through his maiden spell. The right-arm pacer stood true by his captain’s desire and struck at the right moment by a forced error via Maxi, who lobbed an easy grab for Morgan at the cover. 15 overs game was remaining & Aussie side was seen cribbing, having already lost more than half a dozen of its batsmen.
Joe Root , on the time-being eclipsed former Aussie WC winning captain- Ricky Ponting to take most number of catches in a single edition of a World Cup post grabbing a stunner off Rashid’s delivery to shake-off the lower order batting line-up of their opposition for the evening. A late combination of some woeful spell by Plunkett and a comic end by Starcy ensured Aussies to cross the 200-run mark. English side had to chase down 223 to confirm the journey from Birmingham to Lords.
Jason Roy service was missing for the home side for the Englishmen earlier against the Aussies when they were humiliated despite the Stokes showdown of 89 as the pace of JasonBehrendorff- Starcy collectively scalped 9 Englishmen. Australia had a huge task on their cards to defend a target less than 230 (a feat last achieved in 2014).
The opening duo (Roy & Bairstow) proved to be a lethal weapon for 3rd consecutive time as they indulged in a 124-run stand comprising of 5 maximum by the former. Aussie bowler, Starcy didn’t failed to have his share of pie & leave an impressive mark in the low-scoring SF encounter as the Left-arm pacer bagged wicket (27) in form of Bairstow to surpass his ex-mate & the previous record holder, Glen McGrath (26) to become the leading wicket taker in a single edition of the World Cup till date.
Morgan & Root cashed in their rich experience to ensure a fruitful finish for the hosts. England made it to the Finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup after a long gap of 27 years . 9 Englishmen impressed by reflected on the scoring card post the Aussie innings (including players taking catch & involved in dismissal through run-out).
The world stage of cricket is all set to crown a new and a first ever World Cup champion- England or New Zealand on 14th July, 2019 at the iconic grounds of Lord’s.
England’s performance in the Cricket World Cup in terms of matches played (P), won (W),drawn (D) lost (L):-
1975 (4-3-0-1) Semi-Finalists
1979 (5-4-0-1) Runners-up
1983 (7-5-0-2) Semi-Finalists
1987 (8-5-0-3) Runners-up
1992 (10-6-1-3) Runners-up
1996 (6-2-0-4) Quarter-Final
1999 (5-3-0-2) Group stages
2003 (6-3-0-3) Group stages
2007 (9-5-0-8) Super 8
2011 (7-3-1-3) Quarter-Final
2015 (6-2-0-4) Group stages