Finch, Marsh star as Australia crush England

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Mitchell Marsh proved the unlikely bowling star and Aaron Finch blasted the first ton of the World Cup as Australia crushed England by 111 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday.

The tournament favourites ruthlessly swept to victory in their opening Pool A match by posting their highest-ever one-day international total against England of 342 for nine.

They then dismissed their hapless arch-rivals for 231 with more than eight overs to spare.

All-rounder Marsh, making his World Cup debut, claimed five for 33 as Australia latched on to their catches with Steve Smith's mid-air screamer to dismiss Jos Buttler the best of the highlight reel.

It was a comprehensive victory that signalled Australia as the team to beat as they bid to win their fifth World Cup and their first at home since going out in the semi-finals to England when they last hosted the event in 1992.

"I don't think we've made any secret about it, we're here to win the World Cup like 13 other teams are," Finch said.

"I suppose what was great was that everyone contributed either with bat, ball or in the field, so from a team point of view it's really good to see everyone playing well and peaking at the right time."

It was a grim night for England, who only narrowly avoided their heaviest World Cup defeat - in terms of runs - following a 122 run-thrashing by South Africa at The Oval in 1999.

And apart from their bowlers getting flogged and dropped catches, England skipper Eoin Morgan was out for his fourth duck in his last seven innings.

"Probably the most frustrating thing was that we were making errors that we haven't made this trip and again Australia played well but we had opportunties to take the game to them and we didn't," Morgan said.

"They certainly were the better team and they outplayed us in every department right fromm the start which is disappointing."

James Taylor's face-saving unbeaten knock of 98 not out was the lone bright spot, with England now having won just two of their last 16 ODI encounters Down Under.

Opener Finch punished England for Chris Woakes putting him down at mid-wicket on the fifth ball of the innings off James Anderson before the batsman had scored.

Finch thrilled his massive 84,336 home-town crowd with three sixes and 12 fours before he was finally run out by Morgan's brilliant direct hit in the 37th over.

Finch's knock was the second highest against England at the World Cup after West Indies great Vivian Richards's 138 not out in the 1979 final.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell showed off his improvised shotmaking in his all-action knock of 66 off 40 balls and skipper George Bailey contributed 55.

England made early inroads before Finch and Bailey restored the home side's position from 70 for three to put on a stand of 146 runs off 156 balls after Stuart Broad took two wickets in two balls to remove the dangerous David Warner (22) and Shane Watson, caught behind for a first-ball duck.

Woakes followed up with the prized wicket of Smith for five to have the Aussies wobbling at 70 for three.

England's fielding became ragged and Maxwell smashed seamer Steven Finn for four consecutive fours to bring up his 50 off just 30 balls on his way to 66 while Brad Haddin slammed 31 off 14 balls.

Finn took the 2015 World Cup's first hat-trick with the last three balls of the innings but Australia had already compiled a huge total.

England, who had never before chased down more than 306 to win an ODI, soon crumbled under aggressive bowling and tight fielding with Marsh on a hat-trick after dismissing Ian Bell (36) and Joe Root (5) with successive balls.

Morgan's woes continued when he tried to pull Marsh but instead got an under-edge that was superbly held, one-handed, by diving wicketkeeper Haddin.

Buttler fell to a sensational airborne catch by Smith for 10 at short cover.

Woakes and Taylor held up Australia's victory charge for with a 92-run stand for the seventh wicket.

Mitchell Starc bowled Broad for a duck, Finn was caught and bowled by Mitchell Johnson for one.

England didn't even have the consolation of seeing the gutsy Taylor get to a maiden ODI hundred when the match ended in confusion.

Taylor was adjudged lbw but overturned the decision on review. However, Anderson was given run out for eight as he went for a single with Taylor's protestations that the ball was dead when he was initially given out failing to impress the umpires.

Offcials later admitted that the umpires got the decision wrong.

England innings

Australia defeated England in their opening match by a comfortable 111 runs in Melbourne.

While Aaron Finch hogged the limelight scoring a brilliant century, Mitchell Marsh put on a great show picking up five important wickets.

Needing 343 to win, England did not have notable performances except for a valiant battle from James Taylor who remained unbeaten at 98.

Mitchell Marsh bowled a great spell to claim five important wickets that derailed England’s progress. Ian Bell (36) and Chris Woakes (37) were the other contributors.

Earlier, Finch's fine century was followed by George Maxwell's power-packed knock lower the order as Australia made 342 for nine in 50 overs

Put in to bat, David Warner (22) and Finch gave a strong start adding 57 runs for the first wicket.

But Broad struck twice in two successive balls and Steven Smith also departed early to put Australia in a slight worry at 70 for three.

George Bailey (55) with Finch added a century partnership to put Australia in command before Maxwell (66) and Haddin (31) ensured Australia finished with a big total.

Steven Finch took three wickets in his final three balls to earn a hat trick and also finish with a five-wicket haul.

 ENGLAND INNINGS

A well fought 98 not out from Taylor. Unlucky to miss out on a century as Anderrson is run out during some dramatic moments in the middle. England 231 all out in 41.5 overs. 

James Anderson run out 8 (11b 1x4 0x6) 

It's almost over for England as Johnson picks his second wicket to remove Finn. Eng 195-9 in 37.1 overs.

Steven Finn c & b Johnson 1 (6b 0x4 0x6)

Broad departs early as he is bowled by Starc. England have no much options left still needing 149 runs from 83 balls. Eng 194-8 in 36.1 overs.

Stuart Broad b Starc 0 (1b 0x4 0x6) 

England were putting up a fight but Woakes offers a simple catch to Smith going for a big one. Eng 184-7 in 35.2 overs.

Chris Woakes c Smith b Johnson 37 (42b 2x4 0x6) 

England need 190 from 120 balls. A crucial partnership between Woakes and Taylor gets 61 runs for England. Playing a tad aggressive can accelerate their hopes. Eng 153-6 in 30 overs.

Smith takes a stunner as Buttler departs. Marsh picks up his fifth wicket as England look to be losing grip. Eng 92-6 in 21.2 overs.

Jos Buttler c Smith b Marsh 12 (12b 1x4 0x6)

Marsh is on a high as he picks another big wicket to send Morgan home. England look to be headed to a humiliating loss here. Eng 73-5 in 18 overs.

Eoin Morgan c Haddin b Marsh 0 (6b 0x4 0x6)

Marsh on a high as he picks his third wicket to pack off Root. Two quick wickets have put England in the backseat. Eng 66-4 in 13.5 overs.

Joe Root c Haddin b Marsh 5 (12b 0x4 0x6)

Big wicket for Australia as Ian Bell departs. England look to be in trouble here. Eng 66-3 in 13.4 overs.

Ian Bell c Starc b Marsh 36 (45b 4x4 0x6)

England need 295 from 246 balls. Australia have been not giving away easy runs. England need a big partnership and some quick runs to keep up the asking rate. Eng 48-1 in 9 overs. 

England lose their first one as Moen Ali departs. Easy catch for Bailey at mid-on. Eng 25-1 in 4.4 overs.

Moeen Ali c Bailey b Starc 10 (13b 2x4 0x6)

Ali and Bell take charge as Starc bowls. The pacer begins with a maiden. Eng 0-0 in 1 over.

AUSTRALIA INNINGS

Finn gets Mitchell Johnson to take a brilliant hat-trick and a five-wicket haul. Australia finish at 342-9 in 50 overs.

Mitchell Johnson c Anderson b Finn 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)

Another stunning catch as Maxwell departs. Root takes a diving catch in the deep but Maxwell has done his job to put Australia in top position. Aus342-8 in 49.5 overs.

Glenn Maxwell c Root b Finn 66 (40b 11x4 0x6) 

Haddin does his job during his brief stay of 14 deliveries. Aus 342-7 in 49.4 overs.

Brad Haddin c Broad b Finn 31 (14b 5x4 0x6)

Four boundaries for Maxwell as he he gets 54 from only 31 deliveries. Finn 63 runs from 9 overs with 18 runs coming of this over. Aus 299-6 in 46 overs.

Mitchell Marsh departs to give Finn his second wicket. Easily caught by Root. Eng 281-6 in 45.1 overs.

Mitchell Marsh c Root b Finn 23 (20b 3x4 0x6)

Australia lose another quick one. That leaves two new batsmen in the middle. Bailey drags a Finn ball on to his stumps. Aus 228-5 in 38.1 overs.

George Bailey b Finn 55 (69b 3x4 0x6) 

That was a sad end to a brilliant knock as Finch is run out. Aus 216-4 in 36.3 overs.

Aaron Finch run out 135 (128b 12x4 3x6)

Great innings from Bailey to get a well deserved half century. He takes 63 balls to get there including  three boundaries. Aus 213-3 in 36.1 overs

Finch flicks through his legs to a boundary as Finch gets a superb century. His knock came off 103 deliveries including nine boundaries and two sixes. Aus 165-3 in 30.1 overs.

Finch is batting on 98 as he and Bailey share 90 runs for the fourth wicket. With still 20 overs to go, Australia can look for a big total. Powerplay taken. Aus 161-3 in 30 overs.

The duo share a fantastic half century partnership as Finch hammers the first six to get to the mark. A crucial one after the hosts lost three quick wickets. Aus 125-3 in 23 overs.

Ali introduced into the attack, Begins well Gives away just a single run. Aus 105-3 in 20 overs.

Finch making a strong progress with a fine unbeaten 60. The partnership with Bailey is 32 from seven overs. Aus 102-3 in 18 overs

A fine half century from Finch from only 42 deliveries including five boundaries. His presence in the middle is very important as he loses three partners. Aus 81-3 in 13 overs.

Australia look to be losing it from a good start. Smith is bowled by Woakes. Aus 70-3 in 10.3 overs.

Steven Smith b Woakes 5 (9b 1x4 0x6)

Australia are 66-2 in 10 overs 

Broad on fire as he removes Watson getting an edge to the wicketkeeper. He is on a hat-trick. Aus 57-2 in 7.4 overs.

Shane Watson c Buttler b Broad 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)

Broad was being expensive but what a comeback as he rattles Warner's stumps with a lovely inswinger. Aus 57-1 in 7.3 overs.

David Warner b Broad 22 (18b 3x4 0x6)

England miss another chance. again off Anderson bowling. Warner drives as Taylor let goes a tough chance. Anderson seems to be not impressed. Eng 41-0 in 5 overs.

Big over for Australia. Finch gives the hosts their first boundary as 15 runs come off Broad's second over. Aus 23-0 in 4 overs. 

It could have been a disastrous start for Australia as Finch could have walked back early. Finch's flick goes straight at Woakes who is late to react and lets go a simple catch. Aus 3-0 in 1 over.

England have won the toss and put Australia to bat first. They are looking for some early wickets advantage but with the Warner and Finch in great form it could be a different script. Anderson prepares to bowl.

PLAYING XI


Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.

England: Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, James Root, Eoin Morgan, James Taylor, Jos Butler, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn

PREVIEW

England face a formidable task against hosts Australia in their World Cup opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday as they look to end a depressing run against the old enemy.

England, chasing a maiden World Cup title, head into the tournament with fresh painful memories of three losses to the Australians, including a crushing 112-run defeat in last month's tri-series final.

Eoin Morgan's team have to turn around a wretched record of two wins from their last 15 ODI encounters in Australia before an expected 90,000 crowd at the MCG.

The last of England's three losing World Cup finals was in Australia in 1992.

Adding to their problems is that in a tough Pool A they will also face 1996 winners Sri Lanka and the improving tournament co-hosts New Zealand.

England are banking on home expectations getting the better of the Australians as it proved when the World Cup was last held Down Under 23 years ago and they knocked the Aussies out in the semi-finals.

"It's important to focus on what we do best. I think a lot of times in the past we've strived for a formula that hasn't been ours," Morgan said.

"I think if we can produce what I think is our best cricket on Saturday, we'll be able to beat Australia."

The Australians, who will go into the tournament opener without skipper Michael Clarke as he strives for full fitness after hamstring surgery, are looking for the impetus of a commanding victory to get the country behind them for the rest of the six-week tournament.

"There's pressure on every team in any World Cup, wherever you're playing, to win," Australia coach Darren Lehmann said.

"For us it's about embracing our own country and getting the support from the crowd, entertaining them and playing the brand of cricket we have over the last 18 months in the one-day format.

"If we do that, the results will look after themselves.

"We don't look any further ahead than England and looking forward to great crowd support and putting on a good show."

Australia are peaking at the right time for a crack at their fifth World Cup triumph and have only lost one of their last 12 ODIs against all-comers.

Australia accounted for the third-ranked South Africans 4-1 in a series at home last November and comfortably beat England and India in the tri-series in the final weeks before the World Cup.

Morgan has issues of his own heading into cricket's showpiece with three ducks in his last four outings restricting his meaningful batting practice.

"I'm not really that concerned. I've had a couple of low scores, but obviously I'm looking to cash in on Saturday if I manage to get past 10 to 20 balls," Morgan said.

"Four or five games since I last scored a 100, so I don't have to look that far back to actually reconnect with what works well for me.

"I took a lot out of that 100 I scored in Sydney (last month), particularly as it was against Australia. I take a lot of confidence from that game."

Lehmann mischievously hopes Morgan's batting troubles continue for a little while longer.

"He's a good player. I'd like him to continue that run against us on Saturday, but he's a fine player so we'll come up with our plans as we did in the tri-series," he said.

The highest crowd for an ODI at the MCG of 87,789 for the 1992 Pakistan-England World Cup final is under threat this weekend.

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