Woakes puts England on top against Australia
Steve Smith played a lone hand for Australia after local boy Chris Woakes gave England a superb chance of progressing to their first World Cup final in 27 years.
Woakes, who plays here for Warwickshire, utilised the conditions splendidly to claim 3/20 in eight overs to help bowl out the Aussies for just 223 in 49 overs. Former captain Smith struck 85 off 119 balls to keep the defending champions afloat, with only wicket-keeper Alex Carey (46) and tailender Mitchell Marsh (29) providing any further contributions.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Australian skipper Aaron Finch was the first back in the hut after receiving just one ball from Jofra Archer. England’s new-ball bowlers were certainly fired up for the task, with both Archer (2/32) and Woakes hitting their line and lengths from the outset.
Woakes gained his just reward when he delivered a superb away-swinger to David Warner, who followed it to Joe Root at first slip. New-boy Peter Handscomb, who was fresh in the team after replacing the injured Usman Khawaja, did not last long before he too was clean bowled by Woakes.
Australia were deep in trouble at that stage, and it seemed there was no way back at 14/3 after just 6.1 overs. But like the first semi-final at Old Trafford, the Aussies found two battlers in Smith and Carey.
The pair shared a 103-run partnership for the fourth wicket, and looked to be stabilising the innings before Carey played an ill-judged flick straight down deep mid-wicket’s throat.
Australia lost wickets in clusters throughout the innings, and the horribly out-of-form Marcus Stoinis followed the Australian vice-captain back to the dressingroom just two balls later when he was trapped LBW by Adil Rashid.
The England leg-spinner was superb throughout the innings as kept taking wickets through the middle-period to finish with 3/54, later adding Pat Cummins to Carey and Stoinis’ scalps. He deservedly received a generous applause from England spin bowling coach Saqlain Mushtaq from the dressingroom’s balcony.
Smith received good support from Starc lower down the order when the tall fast-bowler swiped a couple of boundaries to push the Aussies past 200, but again the fell within two balls of each other as Australia’s momentum was stemmed once more.
England will now hope for a flying start from their openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow in their bid to join New Zealand’s in Sunday’s showpiece final at Lord’s.