Root and Morgan closed off a comfortable run-chase to drive England into the final
By the 20th over of the chase, England had creamed out more than half of the 224-run target, with only one wicket down. And then a delivery down the leg-side was missed by Jason Roy, who was batting on 85, and Australia went up in appeal. After a brief hesitation, Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger. It was a horror decision that Roy wasn't willing to accept. He brandished his bat and hand seeking a referral, forgetting comfortably that his opening partner Jonny Bairstow had spent that luxury only a couple of overs ago.
Roy mouthed a few words, stayed put on the ground till the time the replays showed up on the big screen, expressed his frustration before stepping out. At no point, were Australia in a mood to call him back, not even when the big screen had showcased the umpire's goof-up. The stakes were too high, even for a team desperate to eradicate its brand of cricket that centers around 'elite honesty'. But that was to have little impact on a day when England had comfortably outplayed Australia, with both bat and ball.
Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc bowled a few tight overs thereafter but couldn't separate Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, who took the hosts over the line without any further damage, picking the remaining 77 runs off only 75 balls.
The base for the successful run-chase, however, was set by Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow yet again. There were some creative, attacking fields set by Aaron Finch but the bowlers didn't do enough to create wicket-taking opportunities. With Roy taking the lead, the duo, for the fourth time in this world cup, powered their way to a century-stand. Bairstow largely struggled through the course of his innings, surviving a few times despite inside edging the cuts. Roy, however, exhibited his batting prowess with some attractive, free-flowing strokeplay: the flicks, the swings and the drives were at their glorious best.
And when Australia did try to experiment by bringing Steve Smith into the attack, Roy countered the legbreaks with a hat-trick of sixes, including one over the roof at Edgbaston.
Australia first success with the ball, the only genuine one, came in the 18th over when Bairstow was struck in front of the stumps by Mitchell Starc. However, by then England had already blazed away to 124, toppling over more than half of the target. Morgan and Root swatted away whatever remained of the challenge thereafter.
That only the top four were needed to chase down the target was largely due to the effort of the English bowlers, especially the new-ball pair of Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer. Australia's decision to bat first and put the pressure of the total on the hosts backfired quite early as they found their in-form openers - Aaron Finch and David Warner - back in the pavilion within the first three overs. Peter Handscomb, playing his maiden world cup game, followed soon after and Australia was left with a cumbersome rebuilding task quite early.
Promoted to No. 5, Alex Carey, walked out in the seventh over and soon received a blow on his chin courtesy an Archer bouncer that left him bleeding. He got his jaw taped and steadied Australia's innings with a fine century stand in the company of Smith. Just when Australia seemed to have a decent platform to transfer the pressure onto the opposition, Carey fell holing out to the deep midwicket fielder.
Adil Rashid was hitting the lengths well and troubled the Australians in the middle overs with his variations, especially his googly. After Carey's fall, Smith didn't get much support from the other end as Australia were soon reduced to 116 for 7. However, Mitchell Starc, despite being scratchy, held one end safe and added fifty with Smith to further elongate Australia's innings.
Smith's solo act came to an end on 85 when Jos Buttler's direct hit from behind the stumps caught the batsman short at the non-striker's end in pursuit of a quick single. Woakes and Rashid finished with three wickets each as Australia were bundled out for 223 - a total that was chased down in 32.1 overs.
With the 8-wicket win, England handed their arch-rivals and reigning champions Australia their maiden semifinal defeat in a World Cup. On Sunday, Lord's awaits England and New Zealand, and cricket, a new champion.
Brief Scores: Australia 223 in 49 overs (Steven Smith 85, Alex Carey 46; Chris Woakes 3-20, Adil Rashid 3-54) lost to England 226/2 in 32.1 overs (Jason Roy 85, Joe Root 49*; Pat Cummins 1-34, Mitchell Starc 1-70) by 8 wickets