ENGLAND took the upper-hand against Australia on Thursday when they restricted their opponents to just 223 runs with one over left of the allotted 50 in a much-anticipated semifinal clash at the ICC Cricket World Cup at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
After winning the toss and electing to take the first strike, the Aussies got the worst possible start when their inform batsman and captain Aaron Finch was trapped leg before wicket by Jofra Archer with the first ball of the second over of the innings.
Things got worse when tall-scoring fellow-opener David Warner fended at a rising delivery from Chris Woakes and gave an easy catch to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to make it 10 for two in the third over.
The Aussies were plunged into further trouble when incoming batsman Peter Handscomb was comprehensively bowled by Woakes to make the score 14 for three.
But Steve Smith, the former team captain who was suspended from cricket for a year by the ICC for his involvement in a ball-tampering controversy last year, dug in his heels with Alex Carey to post 113 for the fourth wicket.
Carey made an invaluable 46 with four boundaries showing great maturity but he was soon followed by Marcus Stoinis back in the pavilion in the same over by England spinner Adil Rashid.
Smith continued his rescue act partnering with incoming batsman and fast bowler Glen Maxwell (22) as they added 39 for the sixth wicket before him and Pat Cummins departed within the space of nine runs.
Mitchel Starc strode into the wicket and with Smith set about repairing the damage done by Rashid three-for and the tandem posted 51 crucial runs to push the total to 217 for eight.
Smith, then 85 and in search of what would have been a brilliant century, was unfortunately run out by a stunning direct hit of the stumps at the non-striker’s end by wicket-keeper Buttler.
He slammed six fours, faced 119 balls in 201 minutes, and played one of the most important innings for his country which took the team from the precipice of disaster to a place where Australia can use their bowling firepower to make a defense their small total.
Like Rashid, Woakes also grabbed three wickets, extracting bounce and swing,, while Archer took two continuing his impressive showing with the new ball. Mark Wood got the last one to fall to bring the Australia innings to a close.