England thump Australia to reach first World Cup final in 27 years

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) – England marched into their first World Cup final in 27 years on Thursday, thrashing reigning champions Australia by eight wickets at Edgbaston to set up a showdown with New Zealand.

Jason Roy hit a blistering 85 as England reached a victory target of 224 with a mammoth 107 balls to spare after bowling out Australia for 223.

Openers Roy and Jonny Bairstow (34) put on 124 for the first wicket, their fourth consecutive century stand.

England, losing finalists in 1979, 1987 and 1992, will now face New Zealand, who have also yet to win the World Cup, in tomorrow’s title match at Lord’s.

The Black Caps, runners-up to Australia in 2015, enjoyed a surprise semi-final win over India on Wednesday.

Four years after a woeful World Cup campaign triggered a major overhaul of England’s one-day international set-up, captain Eoin Morgan admitted reaching the final was a reward for his team’s hard work.

“If you told me after the last World Cup that we’d reach the final I wouldn’t have believed you. It sums up how far we have come in the last four years. Everyone should take a huge amount of credit,” Morgan said.

“Today was close to a perfect performance. Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer bowled a heck of a spell.

“This final is a huge opportunity for us,” he added. “Making the most of it would be brilliant, but getting to the final alone is awesome.”

England’s batsman Jonny Bairstow plays a shot as Australia’s wicketkeeper Alex Carey watches on during the teams’ Cricket World Cup semi-final match. – AP