Aaron Finch won the toss for Australia and elected for his team to bat first on a sunny morning at Edgbaston. With showers forecast for the later today and given the recent run of positive results from teams batting first, it seemed a sensible decision.
But, like India against New Zealand yesterday in the first semi-final, their innings got off to a nightmare start. Jofra Archer, bowling the second over of the match, struck with his first ball, trapping Finch in front lbw for a golden duck.
Things went from bad to worse for the reigning champions as Chris Woakes dismissed both the in-form David Warner and Peter Handscomb (playing his first game of the tournament) in quick succession, leaving Australia 14/3 after 6.1 overs.
Alex Carey (46) and Steve Smith (85) proceeded to steady the ship for Australia, putting on a 103-run partnership before Carey – who was on the receiving end of a nasty blow to the jaw from Archer – fell to Adil Rashid in the 28th over.
Rashid struck again in the same over, deceiving Marcus Stoinis with a googly and trapping him lbw for nought. Despite admirable resistance from Mitchell Starc, who put on 51 runs with Smith, England rallied again with the ball to bowl Australia out for 223 at the end of the 49th over. Chris Woakes ended with excellent figures of 3/20 off his eight overs.
Once the England openers Jonny Bairstow (34) and Jason Roy (85) negotiated the new ball, the result of the game was never really in doubt. In one particular show of aggression, Roy hit Smith for three consecutive sixes to well and truly take the game away from Australia.
In the end, England sealed a resounding eight-wicket victory and one that secured their place in their first Men’s World Cup final in a generation. They will take on New Zealand for the trophy on Sunday, 14 July.