Finch leads from the front as Australia recover against England
London: "Sand Up and Deliver" screamed The Sun's headline, calling for England to rebound against Australia in their World Cup clash on Tuesday night.
Well, initially at least, it was Australian captain Aaron Finch who did just that, by surging to his second century of this tournament. On a day Steve Smith and David Warner were booed by the Lord's crowd, Finch provided a superb platform by crunching an even 100 off 116 balls, including 11 boundaries and two sixes, in Australia's 7-285 after 50 overs.
But the world champions squandered an excellent start, losing 6-86 in 80 balls although England and their power hitters faced a tough challenge after Alex Carey (38 not out off 27) helped to thump 22 runs off the final two overs.
Enjoying career-best form after the tumult of last summer, Finch passed 50 for the fifth time here and added to the century he posted against Sri Lanka at The Oval but fell immediately after celebrating his century when he top edged a short ball from Jofra Archer and was caught at fine leg.
This match was significant for both nations, for victory would rubber-stamp a semi-final berth for Australia, and all but secure a berth for England, seeking their first World Cup win over Australia since 1992.
Finch and David Warner (53 off 61 balls) had taken the initiative by enjoying their third century stand of the tournament in a controlled start by the world champions.
Finch may have dodged a bullet by losing the coin toss for he would have been tempted to bowl first in overcast conditions when the pitch had been covered in the morning because of rain. Counterpart Eoin Morgan had no hesitation in sending the Australians in, and may have regretted that decision when Warner and Finch, having survived a tough opening 40 minutes, found their groove.
Warner and Finch, the most successful opening combination in the tournament, having averaged 86 together before this game, countered the new-ball pairing of Archer and Chris Woakes and made a mess of Mark Wood, who was removed after he went for 24 off his opening three overs.
Finch had some good fortune – he was dropped on 15 off Archer, James Vince unable to hold on to what would have been spectacular "goalkeeper" chance.
Archer had a minor fitness test before play, believed to be for a sore side, but was given the all clear to take to the field. He did not look at his most powerful through his opening spell.
England had begun as the most successful side in the tournament with the short ball, taking 12 wickets, but they had no success early against an opponent that has been the best in negating that delivery. Wood was treated with disdain. He too often was neither full nor short with pace, and, at one stage, had 11 runs taken from three balls.
Finch and Wood's century stand came off 109 balls, including 10 runs off the opening over of leg-spinner Adil Rashid. Finch was the first to acknowledge his half-century, his fifth in seven innings here, and this came off 61 balls with nine boundaries. Warner followed with his half-century off 52 balls, also his fifth of the tournament, and England were in trouble.
This was an England side nervous after their shock loss to Sri Lanka, but the pressure was eased, at least temporarily, when off-spinner Moeen Ali had a delivery which generated extra kick, and Warner's punch off the back foot was caught by Joe Root at backward point.
After days of chat here about whether he would be booed, Warner was given a mixed reception as he left the field. There was applause, particularly from tRead More – Source