Sport Cricket Cricket World Cup: Australia demolishes England to book semi-final spot
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Cricket World Cup: Australia demolishes England to book semi-final spot

Jason Behrendorff (c) of Australia is congratulated by Glenn Maxwell (r) and team mates after taking his 5th wicket. Photo: Getty
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Left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc destroyed England’s much-vaunted batting order as Australia became the first nation to book its place in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals.

Chasing 286 for victory on Friday morning (AEST), England was bowled out for 221 with Behrendorff (5-44) and Starc (4-43) producing outstanding performances at Lord’s.

Australia’s 64-run triumph was set up by Aaron Finch (100), the skipper making it seven one-day international centuries against England with a terrific knock.

But Australia faded from 1-173 in the 33rd over to 7-285, raising England hopes of victory, only for Behrendorff and Starc to steamroll through the top order.

Finch’s men still have two matches to play before the knockout stages begin, against New Zealand and South Africa, while England is now nervously looking over its shoulder, the tournament favourites and hosts fighting among the likes of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan for a semi-final spot.

“[I am] very happy. You can’t win the tournament if you don’t make the semis, so that’s the first part ticked off, which is a really nice feeling. We’ve played some good cricket throughout so far,” Finch said afterwards.

Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon (0-43) came into Australia’s side for the match, replacing Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa respectively, and both inclusions came in for special praise from Finch.

“He [Behrendorff] bowled beautifully … he was outstanding every time he was called upon,” he added.

“Nathan Lyon was brilliant today. He didn’t get the rewards, but I think the way that he bowled was outstanding.”

England captain Eoin Morgan acknowledged his side was “outplayed” and was disappointed with the way it started with the bat.

Eoin Morgan, the England captain, looks dejected during their defeat. Photo: Getty

Australia took just two deliveries to take a wicket, Behrendorff bowling England opener James Vince for a duck with an outstanding delivery that swung back in late.

Starc then trapped England’s best batsman, Joe Root, lbw for eight, before he added the wicket of Morgan for just four after he top-edged a pull shot.

At 3-26 in the sixth over, England was in trouble, and opener Jonny Bairstow (27) soon joined his teammates in the pavilion after holing out to deep midwicket off Behrendorff.

Ben Stokes (89) showed plenty of resistance, though, and even though he battled cramp, he played superbly in his 115-ball stay at the crease.

Stokes mixed patience with his trademark hitting, finding the boundary with eight fours and two sixes.

And even though he lost Jos Buttler (25), Stokes and Chris Woakes (26) combined for a handy 53-run partnership that took England to 5-177.

While Stokes was at the crease, England was still in the game, but Starc produced a simply unplayable inswinging yorker to remove the dangerman.

And England folded from there, Behrendorff helping himself to another three wickets before Starc – the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 19 – finished the job.

Jason Behrendorff of Australia celebrates with teammate Alex Carey. Photo: Getty

Earlier, Finch and David Warner (53) negotiated a tricky first 10 overs as Chris Woakes (2-46) bowled well without luck.

Finch edged the second ball of the day over second slip for four and the near-misses kept coming as both openers were beaten on multiple occasions.

Finch was dropped in the sixth over, Vince spilling a very tough chance at backward point, and England was made to pay as the Victorian started to find the boundary at regular intervals.

Warner found his range after drinks, too, Australia reaching 100 after 18 overs as an imposing total looked on the cards.

The introduction of spin eventually provided the first wicket as Warner spooned a simple catch to Root at backward point off Moeen Ali, and Usman Khawaja failed to convert his start, bowled by Stokes for 23.

With the run-rate dipping, Finch’s milestone was meant to herald the beginning of Australia’s late-innings attack.

But he fell from the first ball after he reached his 15th one-day international century, a wicket that triggered a messy patch that saw Glenn Maxwell caught behind for 12 and Marcus Stoinis run out, after a dreadful mix-up with Steve Smith, for eight.

Smith, who walked to and from the crease to loud booing, then holed out for 38 and Pat Cummins lasted just four balls before edging behind.

Australia undoubtedly lost momentum in the latter stages, but wicketkeeper Alex Carey hit an excellent 38 not out from just 27 balls to push his side towards 300, a tally that would ultimately prove more than enough.

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