ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Left-arm quicks, Finch century rumble England
Aaron Finch's ton sets up innings before Jason Behrendorff's five-wicket haul and Mitchell Starc's searing yorker saw Australia secure a spot in the semi-finals
Louis Cameron at Lord's
26 June 2019, 11:00 AM AEST
A gritty century from Aaron Finch and a left-arm fast-bowling masterclass saw Australia send an emphatic message to their World Cup competitors as they dismantled tournament favourites England for a 64-run victory in a gripping spectacle at Lord's.
Finch (100 off 116 balls) and opening partner David Warner (53 off 61) racked up their third century partnership of the tournament, and while Jason Behrendorff grabbed a career-best 5-44, it was Mitchell Starc (4-43) who delivered the game's knockout blow with a moment of brilliance.
After removing key pair Joe Root and Eoin Morgan with the new ball, Starc clean bowled a rampant Ben Stokes with a searing yorker that ended England’s hopes of victory.
Stokes, who'd hardly put a foot wrong in a sublime innings of 89 off 115 balls, dropped his bat in resignation and kicked it across the crease.
It just about summed up England's day, as everything Australia touched turned to gold – including skipper Finch's shrewd call to take the new ball off Pat Cummins and instead give it to the recalled Behrendorff.
The left-armer, in just his second game of the tournament, bowled James Vince with the second ball of the innings, before having dangerman Jonny Bairstow caught on the boundary to leave England reeling at 4-53.
He then returned at the death to clean up the tail as England were bowled out for 221 off 44.4 overs to hand Australia a 64-run victory.
The win saw the reigning champions reclaim top spot on the World Cup ladder and become the first team to secure a semi-final spot, though they've played one more game than second-placed New Zealand – who meet Pakistan on Wednesday night (7.30pm AEST on Kayo, Fox Cricket) and two more than third-ranked India.
England meanwhile sit fourth and are just one point ahead of Bangladesh on the standings, putting them under severe pressure for their final two games against two of the stronger sides in India and New Zealand.
Having also slumped to a shock defeat to Sri Lanka last week, England lost back-to-back ODIs for the first time in more than three years.
Finch and Warner had to weather challenging opening spells from the hosts' new-ball bowlers on a pitch that offered some assistance, as Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer were unfortunate not to jag an early scalp.
Finch, who smacked 11 fours and a pair of sixes, prospered after getting through the initial examination as he reached his seventh ODI century against England and his 15th overall. He now sits in second spot among the tournament's leading run scorers.
Only Warner, who backed up his monster 166 against Bangladesh last week with a half-century, has scored more heavily as he took his World Cup run tally to an even 500, with the duo's combined 996 runs coming at an average of 76.61.
Australia, however, failed to take full advantage of their strong platform as they stuttered in the closing stages of their innings, reaching 7-285 from their 50 overs.
Alex Carey (38 off 27 balls) fired late, while Steve Smith posted 38 off 34 balls after a horror mix-up with Marcus Stoinis (eight) that saw both batsmen end up at the non-striker's end.
Australia's fielding was top notch as Usman Khawaja, who contributed 23 off 29, took a terrific running grab on the square-leg boundary to end Jos Buttler's 71-run rear-guard with Stokes, before Glenn Maxwell and Finch combined for a clever catch to see the back of Chris Woakes.
A packed slip cordon greeted the Australian openers on a grey morning and with conditions being stacked in the bowlers' favour, Vince put down what would have been a spectacular leaping catch at backward point off Finch, who then survived a tight lbw review the following over off Woakes.
Having been one down for 44 after the first 10 overs – Australia's slowest Power Play of the tournament – Finch and Warner upped the ante after their early good fortune as they became the first openers in World Cup history to put on five straight half-century stands.
Moeen Ali got Warner to chip one to point, as Usman Khawaja contributed 23 in a 50-run partnership with Finch before Ben Stokes knocked him over with a 145-kph stump-seeker.
Woakes made up for the misfield that allowed Finch to reach triple-digits by calmly catching his skied hook shot the following delivery.
The Stoinis run-out was Australia's sixth of the tournament – double the amount of any other team – and completed a collapse of 4-55, as Smith and Carey each smacked five fours to see the Aussies reach a tally well short of what they had looked on track for.
Where England rued misfortune and misfires with the new ball, Australia found success immediately through Behrendorff, as he and Starc grabbed the first four wickets.
Stokes looked like he could rescue England as he charged Cummins and flayed him with abandon through the off-side, while he cleverly swept Nathan Lyon - playing his first game of the tournament - for two sixes to the short leg-side boundary.
But Starc's unplayable yorker put paid to those hopes.
2019 World Cup
June 12: Australia beat Pakistan by 41 runs
June 15: Australia beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs
June 20: Australia beat Bangladesh by 48 runs
June 25: Australia beat England by 64 runs
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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