Birmingham: Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc set a new record for most wickets at a single World Cup when he had England's Jonny Bairstow leg before wicket in the second semi-finals at Edgbaston on Thursday.
That gave the left-arm quick his 27th wicket of the 2019 tournament, breaking the record of 26 for a single edition he had previously shared with retired Australia paceman Glenn McGrath.
But barring a spectacular collapse, Starc's strike looked like being a footnote in the match with England chasing a small total of 224 for the win. The winner goes on to play New Zealand at Lord's on 14 July. The Black Caps had beaten India by 18 runs in the other semi-final which had finished on Wednesday after rain had interrupted things on Tuesday.
Starc began the World Cup with one wicket against Afghanistan but picked things up with a fifer against West Indies. He then took eight wickets in the wins over Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
He then took four wickets against England at Lord's before another fifer against New Zealand followed by two against South Africa.
Starc took 22 wickets in eight matches during the 2015 World Cup. McGrath, at the age of 37, claimed 26 scalps at the 2007 World Cup, which beat the previous record of 23 from Chaminda Vaas.
Starc, who now boasts 49 World Cup scalps, still has a way to go to beat McGrath’s overall tally of 71. Starc also holds the distinction of picking at least one wicket in each of the World Cup game he has played.
Asked about the prospect of surpassing McGrath, Starc said after the win over New Zealand last week, "Records don’t mean much if we don’t win the World Cup. ‘I’m just stoked to be playing a part in this group and to be contributing to the team’s success."
Batting first, Australia scored just 223 runs and their perfect record in World Cup semifinals came under jeopardy. Only Steve Smith stood firm to the England bowling attack. The right hander scored 85 runs from 119 balls after being promoted to bat at No 3 in the absence of the injured Usman Khawaja.
After a poor start, Smith found no support at the other end. Chris Woakes (3/20) and Jofra Archer (2/32) gave Australia no chances early on before Adil Rashid (3/54) cleaned things up in the middle overs.
Woakes and Archer shared the new ball and accounted for the wickets of Aaron Finch, David Warner, Peter Handscomb inside the first seven overs. Also in disarray was Alex Carey's chin which was split open by a bouncer.
Opposite to Australia, England haven't won a knockout World Cup game since 1992.
With inputs from AFP