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Hundred and out!
Ecstasy and then some disappointment. On top of the world and then finding yourself dismissed. Sport is full of bittersweet symphonies. Finch reached his hundred and kissed his helmet and was top of the world. However, the very next delivery he could only top-edge a well-directed short ball from Jofra straight into the hands of Woakes behind square on the on side. The Australian skipper, though, has put Australia in a strong position. The track is assisting both pacers and spinners. Gritty innings indeed.
Leading from the front
Finch has continued his golden run with the bat - biffing the spinners over long on and covers. He has got into nervous nineties as well. Meanwhile, Buttler missed a stumping to give Khawaja a reprieve.
Just when it seemed as if nothing was going right for England, Stokes cleaned up Khawaja with the southpaw playing across the line. However, England need a string of wickets to make a comeback. The track is still doing enough.
Moeen with the wicket
Eventually, Moeen broke the threatening stand with a delivery that stopped and then kicked a touch to surprise Warner. He could only spoon a catch to the man at backward point. England needed that wicket desperately. On the other hand, Lyon would be watching. Maybe there is a hint of moisture still around.
Australia solidify strong position
Wood who came on as the first change banged in a few deliveries short and was duly punished by Warner and Finch. The opening duo also went after Rashid and Moeen with both openers completing their respective fifties. Pressure on England.
Australia gain upper hand
Aaron Finch is living dangerously with Woakes beating both his edges continuously. However, the key point is he is still there and is batting with some pluck. Australia have raced to 59 for no loss in 13 overs and in the ascendancy. England could have bowled a touch fuller but has to be said Woakes has had no luck today.
Prayers... hopefully, the legend will recover.
As expected, the ball has jagged around quite a bit and both Warner and Finch were beaten on the outside edge. A few near misses too. Finch drove one in the first over that flew over the slip cordon. And then Vince almost took a blinder at backward point with a leap but could only get one hand on it.
Woakes then had an LBW decision against Finch turned down. England took the review and replays suggested umpire's call. Luck going more Australia's way. Woakes has been the best bowler for England so far.
Toss and teams
Australia (Playing XI): David Warner, Aaron Finch(c), Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey(w), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff
England (Playing XI): James Vince, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(w), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
England have opted to bowl. Interesting decision. With rain around, you expect some moisture underneath. So it could be a touch soft and there is a chance of movement off the seam. Moisture also indirectly helps swing.
On the other hand, in a crucial tie, England also could have looked at batting first to put runs on the board.
Aaron Finch - "Not too disappointed about batting first. Wasn't too sure about the wicket, but I would have probably bowled first as well. Two changes for us - Nathan Lyon and Jason Behrendorff in, they replace Adam Zamp and Nathan Coulter-Nile. We aren't really bothered about how the crowd react (to Smith and Warner). Every game is crucial and we can't take any game lightly."
Eoin Morgan - "We are going to bowl. Not necessary a no-brainer, it's a bit soft on the top, it rained overnight and the wicket was under covers, might do a bit this morning. Hopefully, the sun will come out later and make batting easy in the afternoon. We are playing the same XI. Jofra is good, had stiffness in his side and we had a precautionery fitness test. We are confident, for long we never won anything against Australia, but we have had some success against Australia recently and think we have a good side."
"The pitch is a little bit to the east and it means the square boundaries are short. The straight boundaries are huge though. It's overcast, there might be a bit of movement, some green grass on the pitch, but it's dry underneath, although it looks a bit cold. The captain winning the toss would like to bowl first," says Michael Clarke in his pitch report
Good news for England
Some good news for England as Jofra has been passed fit for the game. He had complained of tightness in his left side. A typical side strain, depending on the Grade, could lead to the pacer missing out on 1 to 3 months.
The year was 1788. Arthur Phillip led a Fleet from England to Australia and established a Penal colony in Sydney. It was also the year when the new settlers in Australia played a game of bat and ball that is known as cricket.
Time flies and as the clock tick-tocked ruthlessly, cricketing ties between England and Australia started to grow. In 1861-62, HH Stephenson, better known for his round arm pace bowling, led an English team to Australia and the side partook in 12 games; none of them were counted as first class matches.
A worthy mention also has to go to the Australian Aboriginal cricket team that toured England in 1868. The set-up was captained and coached by Tom Wills, with Johnny Mullagh being the star player of the side.
The first Test between England and Australia was played at the MCG in 1877. However, it was in 1882 when the legend of Ashes began. Fred Spofforth, the Australian fast bowler, motivated by W.G. Grace's gamesmanship, bowled a stunning spell, which included taking his last four wickets for just two runs to engineer a come-from-behind victory at The Oval. Before bowling that spell, the fiery pacer had said: "This thing can be done."
It resulted in a London journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks penning down an "obituary'' in the Sporting Times. "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."
For a while, let's steer away from the legend of Ashes as we are looking at the ongoing 50-over World Cup, where the two age-old rivals would go head-to-head in a crucial clash at the home of cricket, Lord's.
England and Australia have certainly been a part of some thrilling World Cup games. In the 1975 World Cup semifinal, Australia were reduced to a precarious 39 for 6 in pursuit of just 94! However, Gary Gilmour, the hero of Australia's 1975 World Cup campaign, steered them home with an unbeaten 28. Earlier, he had also picked up an astonishing 6 for 14.
In the 1987 World Cup final at the iconic Eden Gardens, at 135 for 3, in pursuit of 254, England seemed to be on their way to hoisting the World Cup trophy for the first time. Mike Gatting, the England skipper, and one of their better players of spin in the side, was looking in fine touch.
Just that against the run of play, Gatting tried an ill-advised reverse sweep off Allan Border and was dismissed. Australia soon gained the ascendancy and hoisted first of many more World Cups. It also signalled a turnaround for a beleaguered Australian side that was repeatedly beaten by England in the previous season.
In 1992, Ian Botham had his final hurrah against his favourite opponent, Australia. Botham, who was past his peak, mixed his pace and swung it at gentle pace, to send Australia tumbling to a defeat. He even crunched an aggressive fifty. 'Beefy' always loved to play the Men from Down Under.
Since then, Australia have never lost to England in a World Cup game. Yes, Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel scripted a jailbreak in the 2003 World Cup game, but the harsh truth is England haven't beaten Australia in World Cups since 1992.
Can Eoin Morgan's men turn the tables on Australia this time around? England, one of the fancied sides of the tournament, slipped to a surprise loss against Sri Lanka, the other day. So they are also under a bit of pressure in terms of progressing to the semifinals.
It should turn out to be a mouth-watering clash. Jofra and Wood versus Warner and Finch. Cummins and Starc versus England's aggressive batting unit. England, though, would again miss out on the services of their injured opener, Jason Roy.
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Toss and teams in a while...
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