A new nation will lift the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup after England joined New Zealand in the final with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Australia at Edgbaston.
Australia had won the toss and chosen to bat, but a blistering opening spell from Chris Woakes (3/20) and Jofra Archer (2/32), removing both openers in the first three overs, set the tone for a fine bowling effort.
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow then added 124 for the first wicket, their third successive century partnership in this tournament.
While Bairstow fell for 34, Roy went on to make 85 before Joe Root (49 not out) and Eoin Morgan (45 not out) did the rest, as England secured their place at Lord’s on Sunday.
Steve Smith had earlier made a defiant 85, before he was removed by a stunning piece of fielding from Jos Buttler, and England then cantered to the target of 224 in 32.1 overs, handing Australia a first defeat in their eighth World Cup semi-final.
Two decades after Australia had been involved in the closest semi-final of all at this ground, when a tie against South Africa had secured their passage to the final, there was to be no such drama this time around.
As a result, it will be either England or New Zealand who will become the sixth side to lift the World Cup, joining the West Indies, India, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in cricket’s pantheon.
It will be England’s fourth final, and first since 1992, while the Black Caps have reached their second in succession.
The first ball of the game had given little indication of what was to follow, David Warner driving confidently through the covers off Woakes.
However, Archer’s first delivery thundered into the pads of Aaron Finch, the Australian skipper removed for a duck, having scored centuries in each of his previous two World Cup clashes with England.
Warner continued to attack, lifting Woakes back over his head for four, but the next ball the bowler got his revenge with one that got big on the opener and was edged through to Bairstow at first slip.
Peter Handscomb, making his first appearance of the tournament after replacing the injured Shaun Marsh, followed for four, clean bowled by Woakes to leave Australia 14/3.
It was then that Smith and Alex Carey began to rebuild, adding 103 for the fourth wicket. However, when the keeper fell for 46, picking out deep midwicket off Adil Rashid, Australia’s hopes were dented further.
Marcus Stoinis went for a duck four balls later, with Archer returning to remove Glenn Maxwell for 22 just as he looked set to tee off.
Smith’s second recovery job came with Mitchell Starc, the pair adding 51 for the eighth wicket before Buttler’s stunning intervention.
Starc nicked behind the next ball and Mark Wood, in his 50th ODI, wrapped up the innings to leave England chasing a very manageable 224 to reach the final.
England could have played conservatively with a small target, but this team knows only one way and they attacked from the off.
Bairstow hammered a boundary in the first over, Roy flicked Starc for six off his toes and then smashed Nathan Lyon’s first delivery back over his head and over the rope as Australia had no answer.
The first real worry came with 71 on the board, Bairstow appearing to have injured his groin while running two, but after some treatment from the physio, he put the pads back on and continued in the same vein as before.
Smith had salvaged Australia’s innings, but his hopes of turning the match with the ball were emphatically ended by Roy, hitting him for three successive sixes including one monster over long on that landed in the top tier.
Starc finally ended the opening stand in his fourth spell, getting Bairstow leg before for his 27th wicket of the tournament – a record for a single edition – but it was little consolation.
Root then hit three fours from his first four deliveries, and while Roy fell two overs later, England’s Test skipper was joined by their one-day captain, Morgan, to see the team home.
Scores in brief:
England beat Australia by eight wickets, at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Australia 223 all out, in 49 overs (Steve Smith 85, Alex Carey 46; Chris Woakes 3/20, Adil Rashid 3/54, Jofra Archer 2/32)
England 226/2, in 32.1 overs (Jason Roy 85, Joe Root 49 not out, Eoin Morgan 45 not out; Pat Cummins 1/34, Mitchell Starc 1/70)
Player of the match: Chris Woakes (England)