Australia won the toss and chose to bat first against England in Thursday's Cricket World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston.

The tournament hosts struggled badly when chasing against Aaron Finch's men during the group-stage defeat at Lord's, while they also showed frailties in failing to overhaul a moderate score in a shock loss to Sri Lanka at Headingley.

England captain Eoin Morgan confirmed his side was unchanged from the one that hammered New Zealand to seal a place in the semis, while Australia's sole alteration sees Peter Handscomb come in for the injured Usman Khawaja, as had been announced by head coach Justin Langer prior to the game.

There had been talk that Matthew Wade - called into the squad as Khawaja's replacement - may be selected ahead of Glenn Maxwell, but the all-rounder retained his place in the XI.

Not since 1992 have England gone this deep at the World Cup, while Australia are aiming to continue their perfect record in semi-finals, having progressed from all seven of their previous matches at this stage of the competition.

The victors will go through to Sunday's final at Lord's to face New Zealand, who sensationally defeated India at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Australia's top order fired once again as they completed a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan with a 20-run victory in the fifth ODI in Sharjah, despite a fine hundred from Haris Sohail.

Steve Smith and David Warner are now available for selection after completing 12-month bans for their part in last year's ball-tampering scandal, but on recent evidence it will be no easy task finding places for the former skipper and vice-captain at the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

All of Australia's top four passed 50 on Sunday as the tourists racked up an imposing total of 327-7, Usman Khawaja leading the way with 98 – his seventh score in excess of 50 in his last 10 ODI, including two centuries.

Skipper Aaron Finch contributed 53 to an opening stand of 134 and finishes the series with 451 runs, while Shaun Marsh added 61 and Glenn Maxwell provided excellent acceleration late on with a typically flamboyant 70 from 33 deliveries.

Haris compiled 130 from 129 balls in reply and shared century partnerships with Shan Masood (50) and Umar Akmal (43) to keep Pakistan in the hunt.

However, the respective dismissals of Umar and Haris in the 40th and 41st overs left Pakistan with too much to do and they fell short on 307-7 despite an unbeaten 50 from stand-in captain Imad Wasim.

Australia have now won eight ODIs in a row and could not be in better form ahead of the World Cup, which begins in two months.

Khawaja and Finch faced a few nervy moments early on after Pakistan won the toss and chose to bowl, but Australia's openers were soon in command once again as they put on 134 in 23.2 overs.

Usman Shinwari accounted for the pair, with Khawaja picking out midwicket to miss out on another hundred, yet Marsh made his second fifty of the series and Maxwell raised the tempo superbly, thumping 10 fours and three sixes.

A flurry of late wickets saw Shinwari and Junaid Khan finish with 4-49 and 3-73 respectively, before Abid Ali – a centurion on debut last time out – fell to the recalled Jason Behrendorff for a golden duck at the start of the Pakistan chase.

Haris, who made his maiden ODI hundred last week, anchored the innings superbly thereafter and a tense finale was in prospect as he and Umar combined to leave 93 needed from 11 overs, with six wickets in hand.

Both set batsmen fell in quick succession to Lyon and Kane Richardson, though, and Imad's fighting fifty was not enough for Pakistan.

Australia have played 43 games across all formats in the time Steve Smith and David Warner have been banned - and the statistics suggest the two should have no problem walking back into the XI for the upcoming Ashes.

Ex-captain Smith and former vice-captain Warner are available to be selected for their country again from this week when the 12-month bans for their roles in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal come to an end.

Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at how Australia's batsmen have fared across all three formats over the past year without the duo.

 

TESTS (P9 W3 D2 L4)

The first Test without Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft, who was given a nine-month ban for his part in the saga, ended in a 492-run loss to South Africa as the Proteas wrapped up a 3-1 series success.

Matthew Renshaw was one of those drafted in for that final match in Johannesburg, but having scored a cumulative 13 across two innings, he has not appeared in a Test since. 

Peter Handscomb initially filled Smith's spot at four and averaged fewer than 19 across seven innings, though Joe Burns was one of the success stories, the opener's 180 against Sri Lanka last month helping him to an average of 50 over the past year.

Travis Head (51) had a better average than Burns in that time, but openers Aaron Finch (27.8) and Marcus Harris (32.7) were unable to replicate Warner (48.2), particularly when they struggled in a 2-1 home series loss to India.

Having made his Test debut in October, Marnus Labuschagne batted at four in the recent two-match series with Sri Lanka, yet his average of 26.3 pales in comparison with Smith's 61.4.

 

ODIS (P18 W7 L11)

With a World Cup on English soil looming on the horizon later in 2019, Australia's 50-over fortunes were looking grim as little as three weeks ago.

A five-match series in India began with defeats in the opening two matches, meaning the world champions had lost 11 of 13 ODIs since the Newlands scandal.

But a stunning comeback sealed a 3-2 win over Virat Kohli's men, and Australia have continued that momentum in the UAE, where successive Finch hundreds mean the tourists lead Pakistan 2-0 in a best-of-five contest.

Those centuries have lifted Finch's ODI average across the past year to 39.4, while the likes of Usman Khawaja (60.9), Shaun Marsh (59.3) and Handscomb (52.1) have all benefitted from opportunities they may not otherwise have had.

Two months out from the start of the World Cup, the holders appear to be finding form at just the right time, and the returns of Smith and Warner will leave head coach Justin Langer nursing a welcome selection headache.

 

TWENTY20S (P16 W7 L8 NR1)

Smith's ban had little effect on his nation's T20 form - the 29-year-old having not featured in that format since March 2016 - yet Warner left a bigger void to fill having scored more than any other Australian in the shortest format.

Despite that, four leading batsmen averaged more than Warner's 26.7 over the previous 12 months.

Finch amassed 465 runs, though that total comes with the caveat that 324 of those were accrued in his first three innings. In his past 13 T20 knocks for Australia, Finch has averaged only 10.8.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell (averaging 34), D'Arcy Short (28.3) and Head (27.3) were the others to shine in Warner and Smith's absences.

Alex Carey will return to the Australia side for the first one-day international against India and Glenn Maxwell is in line for a promotion.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Carey was overlooked for the 2-0 Twenty20 whitewash of Virat Kohli's side as Peter Handscomb donned the gloves.

Captain Aaron Finch confirmed Carey will be recalled for the ODI opener in Hyderabad on Saturday.

The skipper said: "Alex has done well when he's had his opportunities and I know he was really disappointed missing out on the T20 games,

"But Pete had done a good job for the [Melbourne] Stars and gave us the luxury of playing that extra bowler as well, which was so important at the end of the day.

"Going forward, [the keeper] is probably likely to be in that middle-order, number seven spot."

Maxwell made a scintillating 113 not out in a seven-wicket win on Wednesday after scoring a half-century in the first T20 and is set to be pushed up the order after batting at seven in the home series' against India and South Africa.

"His two knocks here were unbelievable," Finch said.

"Especially that last one, it was as good a T20 innings I've ever seen in terms of a big run chase, where the rate was always hovering around 10-11-12 which makes it difficult to manage your risk-reward scenarios.

"He'll get an opportunity a bit higher up the order, no doubt. His record in India is very good, the way he played in Australia, even in the ODIs there was some really good improvement.

"So whether that's six, whether it's five – I'm not exactly sure yet. But he'll get an opportunity a bit higher than seven I'd imagine."

Glenn Maxwell was described as "a freak" by Peter Handscomb after his stunning unbeaten century guided Australia home against India in Wednesday's second Twenty20.

Chasing 191 for victory in Bengaluru, Australia were toiling at 22-2 when Maxwell walked in, and what followed was one of the finest T20 knocks ever seen.

Maxwell hammered 113 off only 55 balls, including seven fours and nine sixes, to secure victory by seven wickets in the final over and hand the tourists a 2-0 series success, backing up the 56 he made in Sunday's last-ball thriller.

Handscomb contributed 20 not out off 18 deliveries in a match-winning stand of 99 and afterwards paid tribute to his team-mate's sensational innings.

"I just tried to get Maxy on strike, that was the plan, and it was great to be there until the end," he said. "We wanted to make sure there's an in batter at the end, and it was the batters' job to complete the job.

"He is a freak, he can play shots other people can't, and he's really matured now. It was just a pleasure being at the other end."

Maxwell added: "It was a pretty good wicket, so we were able to wait for anything slightly off line or length. We just needed to get it to about 11 or 12 an over for the last four overs, and back ourselves from there. After D'Arcy [Short]'s dismissal it was up to me to sit around and drive the innings forward.

"Pete Handscomb did a great job of getting off strike and being busy. We were able to keep consistently having good overs and keep the [required] run rate in check.

"We were just talking about how we haven't had a lot of success here. To come and perform as well as we have in these two T20s, it's a great start to this tour."

Losing captain Virat Kohli, meanwhile, conceded there was little his side could have done to stymie Maxwell in that sort of form.

"Australia outplayed us in both games, they were more clinical with bat, ball and on the field," said Kohli, who struck six sixes in his thrilling 38-ball 72.

"We put up a decent total, 190 is a good score on any ground, but there was too much dew around, and when Maxy plays an innings like that, you can't do too much."

Glenn Maxwell blasted a remarkable unbeaten 113 from just 55 balls as Australia chased down 191 to defeat India by seven wickets and secure a 2-0 Twenty20 series success.

Having walked to the crease with the tourists stumbling at 22-2 after four overs, Maxwell produced one of the great T20 innings on Wednesday, hammering seven fours and nine sixes en route to his third century in the shortest format.

Maxwell laid the platform for a successful chase alongside D'Arcy Short (40 off 28) before dominating a fourth-wicket stand worth 99 with Peter Handscomb to see Australia home with two deliveries remaining.

The brutal hitting of Maxwell, following his 56 in the series opener, overshadowed the earlier genius of India captain Virat Kohli, who had blasted six maximums in a spectacular 38-ball 72 that had the Bengaluru crowd on its feet.

He, MS Dhoni (40 off 23) and KL Rahul propelled India to 190-4, but even that daunting total proved within Maxwell's grasp as he reached fifty from 28 deliveries and needed only 22 more to bring up his hundred in guiding the visitors over the line almost single-handed.

Rahul had top-scored for India with 50 in Sunday's last-ball defeat and he looked in good form again, launching Jhye Richardson for successive sixes in the fifth over before repeating the feat off Pat Cummins in the next.

He perished for a breezy 47 off 26, however, guiding a catch to deep third-man and when Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant fell cheaply - the latter to Richardson's fine diving catch at long-off - Dhoni walked out to meet Kohli.

Patient to begin with, the pair kicked on in the final six overs, Kohli sending Nathan Coulter-Nile over the ropes three times in a row in the 16th while Short suffered punishment at the hands of Dhoni, who fell late in the piece before Kohli finished the innings in style by thumping Cummins over long-off for a maximum.

Australia's chase was in trouble as Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch departed for single figures, Maxwell and Short forced to rebuild before the former put his foot down in the last six overs.

Krunal Pandya was hammered over long-off before Yuzvendra Chahal disappeared over the fence twice in succession – the second via a reverse sweep of remarkable power.

Two fours off Jasprit Bumrah in the 17th over and a six into the sightscreen off Siddarth Kaul helped reduce the equation to seven required from four, and Maxwell crashed Kaul back over his head for a maximum and then to the cover boundary to round off the win in fitting fashion.

Glenn Maxwell conceded the remarkable nature of Melbourne Stars' Big Bash League final loss to Melbourne Renegades was a bitter pill to swallow.

Seeking a maiden title, the Stars looked firmly in control of Sunday's decider at Marvel Stadium, reaching 93-0 towards the end of the 13th over in a chase of 146.

But a stunning collapse saw Maxwell's side lose seven wickets for just 19 runs in less than five overs as the Renegades completed a sensational turnaround to seal victory by 13 runs.

The Stars have reached the play-offs in all but one of the eight Big Bash seasons, and Maxwell hopes to use this latest disappointment to spur the side on and finally lift the trophy in 2019-20.

"This will probably drive us next year and we'll use it as motivation to go one step further," he said. 

"We were so close, with eight overs [to go] we probably looked like winners. To fall that short is disappointing and it's hard to take.

"I'm sure once the dust settles and we get back to next year, we'll be able to put some more performances on the board with some more squad depth.

"I think those first 10 overs – we batted beautifully but I think we could have gone a bit harder, knowing what we had behind us.

"You can kill the game in the powerplay when you're only chasing 145 – 0-36 was great, we had 10 wickets in hand, but it was that sort of game. That's good in hindsight, it's nice to know now."

Maxwell insisted he had no regrets about opting to field having won the toss, after opposite number Aaron Finch said his choice would have been to bat first.

"With the way the game was going, the way they were throwing the ball into the ground and getting the ball soft, it was always going to be hard for a new batter [in the chase]," said Maxwell. 

"You could sort of feel that on the boundary, we probably needed to kill the game a bit earlier, go a bit harder when the ball was hard and just get ahead of the rate. 

"They bowled pretty well and kept us around seven and a half an over. As soon as you lose a wicket, that can really skyrocket as we saw it tonight. 

"That's probably the way we would have gone about it [in the field] – we wouldn't have been too concerned with a team being none down, especially [as] we didn't really get away at any stage."

Melbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch says his side stuck to their strengths as they pulled off a remarkable comeback against the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League final. 

Runners-up in 2015-16, the Stars looked to be cruising to their maiden BBL crown at 93-0 in response to the Renegades' total of 145-5 in Melbourne on Sunday. 

But a stunning capitulation saw them lose seven wickets for 19 runs in 30 balls, eventually finishing on 132-7 at Marvel Stadium. 

"It's exciting, very special," said Finch, who managed only 13 with the bat. "Our boys were fantastic. I didn't do a hell of a lot to be fair, it was the guys who executed with bat and ball. 

"We knew batting first it was going to be so hard to chase any total, you can defend anything. We stuck to our strengths and you just need one little opening, especially in a final with the pressure on."

Player of the match Dan Christian - previously a winner of the BBL with Brisbane Heat - followed up an unbeaten 38 with bowling figures of 2-33, as well as a pair of catches. He added: "I wasn't expecting that to be honest, an awesome game from everyone. 

"The bowlers stuck to it all the way. I was lucky to parachute in at the end. 

"This is right up there, let's say it's the best one! We spend a lot of time together, a great bunch of blokes."

Despite throwing away their chance at the title, Stars captain Glenn Maxwell was full of praise for his players.

"Extremely proud, we played some great cricket this tournament," he commented. "To fall short at the end is disappointing.

"Hopefully we'll win it next year. Great support, they've been brilliant for us.

"Congratulations to Renegades, we've had some great tussles.

"To my boys, I've asked a lot of you and you've delivered in spades."

Melbourne Renegades emerged from the jaws of defeat to sensationally win their first Big Bash League title by 13 runs as Melbourne Stars collapsed in dramatic fashion.

Runners-up in 2015-16, the Stars looked to be cruising to their maiden BBL crown at 93-0 in response to the Renegades' total of 145-5 in Melbourne on Sunday.

But the Stars capitulated in remarkable scenes, losing 19-7 in 30 balls as they were limited to 132 runs at Marvel Stadium.

 

STARS THROW AWAY TITLE

The Stars were cruising with a coveted trophy in their sights - Ben Dunk (57) and Marcus Stoinis (39) settled in the middle.

Dunk hit four boundaries and a six, while Stoinis smashed a pair of fours and a six of his own.

But when Stoinis was bowled out by Cameron Boyce, it all went horribly wrong in one of the wildest chokes seen in the competition.

"If the Stars lose from here, I don't think they'll ever win it," Shane Warne said on Fox Sports with the Stars five down . "It was the unlosable game."

Aside from Adam Zampa (17 not out), no other player reached double figures as Peter Handscomb (0), Glenn Maxwell (1), Nic Maddinson (6), Seb Gotch (2), Dwayne Bravo (3) and Jackson Bird (4 not out) watched the trophy slip through the Stars' grasp.

"For those men in red, they'll sit there and giggle and say 'I can't believe we won the Big Bash Final'," Warne said. "For the men in green, they've got some serious questions they've got to ask themselves. They lost the game through reckless cricket, maybe a bit complacent and some pretty ordinary shots and they'll be a shattered group."

 

RENEGADES IN MARVEL MIRACLE

After the stadium was evacuated just hours before the final due to a rogue fire alarm, the Renegades somehow - beyond belief - defended a modest total in the Melbourne derby.

The Renegades were sent in to bat by Stars captain Maxwell, whose side gained the upper hand as they reduced their rivals to 65-5 in the 11th over - Jackson Bird (2-25) and Zampa (2-21) the wicket-takers.

However, Tom Cooper (43 runs from 35 balls) and Dan Christian (38 from 30) put the Renegades back on track with an unbeaten 80-run partnership.

Renegades skipper Aaron Finch was run out at the non-strikers' end and he was seen taking his frustrations out on a chair as he headed down the tunnel.

Then, with the ball, Renegades quartet Boyce (2-30), Chris Tremain (2-21), Christian (2-33) and Harry Gurney (1-20) helped pull off the unlikeliest of victories in their first BBL final appearance.

Paceman Pat Cummins won the Allan Border Medal for the first time on Monday.

The hostile quick claimed Test-best match figures of 10-62 in the recent series victory over Sri Lanka and has been a shining light in a tough time for Australian cricket.

Either banned duo Steve Smith or David Warner has been named Australia's best male player in each of the last four years, but Cummins was given the honour in their absence at an awards ceremony in Melbourne.

Spinner Nathan Lyon was named men's Test Player of the Year, while Marcus Stoinis landed the ODI gong and Glenn Maxwell the best male Twenty20 player.

Alyssa Healy picked up the Belinda Clark Award and was named female Player of the Year in all three formats.

Cummins was pinching himself after putting his injury woes behind him in such impressive fashion.

He said: "It's crazy. Mitchell Johnson, I was there when he won it a few years ago and I think of the summer he had.

"All the incredible batsmen who have got it before - it's a bit weird to be honest."

Glenn Maxwell's stunning performance saw Melbourne Stars crush Sydney Sixers by 94 runs to secure the last spot in the Big Bash League semi-finals.

Maxwell dazzled with 82 runs off 43 balls as the Stars leapfrogged Brisbane Heat into fourth position in Sunday's final game of the regular season.

The Australian all-rounder's memorable display saw the Stars post a total of 168-6 at the MCG in Melbourne.

Maxwell's bowling team-mates than finished the job, humiliating the visiting Sixers for just 74 all out as Sydney blew the chance to host a BBL semi-final.

 

MAXWELL MAGIC IN MELBOURNE

Local favourite Maxwell took centre stage when the Stars needed him most in the do-or-die clash.

Maxwell caught fire late in the innings, scoring his final 65 runs off just 23 deliveries, including three sixes in the final over from Ben Dwarshuis (1-34).

The Stars – who were sent into bat by the Sixers – were 101-4 in the 16th over when Maxwell pummelled Sydney's bowlers, while he also claimed a wicket.

Marcus Stoinis (34) and Peter Handscomb (35) provided valuable contributions, after the former twice benefited from Tom Curran's (2-39) poor fielding.

 

GAME TO FORGET FOR SORRY SIXERS

Bowled out for 74 – the fourth lowest total in BBL history. It was an embarrassing outing for the Sixers.

Maxwell's performance alone outscored the Sixers, whose previous lowest score was 99-9 in 2017.

Wickets fell regularly as Daniel Hughes (12), Steve O'Keefe (11 not out) and Curran (10) were the only Sixers batsmen to reach double-figures.

Sandeep Lamichhane led the Stars with 3-11, while Daniel Worrall (2-24) and Adam Zampa (2-15) were the next best bowlers.

 

STARS SECURE HURRICANES SHOWDOWN

Attention will now turn to the semis, with minor premiers Hobart Hurricanes awaiting the Stars.

The Stars and the Hurricanes will meet at Bellerive on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Sixers will be back in Melbourne for Friday's clash with the Renegades at Marvel Stadium.

Australia head coach Justin Langer was involved in a tense exchange with a reporter after being asked about Glenn Maxwell's ongoing absence from the Test team.

Out-of-favour all-rounder Maxwell was once again snubbed by Australia selectors, this time overlooked for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.

Langer was asked about Maxwell – who has not played a Test since 2017 – on Thursday after claims the 30-year-old was told not to play county cricket on the basis he would be selected for an Australia A tour of India last year.

Maxwell, however, was not selected for that tour nor October's Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

When Langer was quizzed by a reporter about the sequence of events and reports regarding the alleged advice given to Maxwell, the Australia boss reacted angrily.

"Are you certain that's what happened? Are you certain that's what happened?" Langer replied.

"Did it happen? You're telling me it did happen — did it happen? I'm asking, did it happen?

"I've got zero knowledge of that… Careless whispers, aye?"

Langer later apologised, saying: "Sorry for getting grumpy. I don't like getting grumpy, but there's so many stories that go around about so much stuff.

"Sorry for getting grumpy. We can talk about it after. The truth is a beautiful thing."

Maxwell has played in seven Tests for Australia since debuting in 2013 as the Victorian continues to be left in the red-ball wilderness.

"Glenn is crystal clear from me, and the selectors, what he needs to do to get back in the Test team. He is crystal clear," Langer said.

"He has shown he is brilliant around the group in white ball cricket. There have been some reports about personality — it is literally false. It's not true.

"He is crystal clear what he has to do, and that's important that he knows that and that I know that as the coach and one of the selectors, and all the conjecture about it, that's all part of the noise."

Glenn Maxwell and Nick Larkin scored unbeaten 41s in an 80-run stand as Melbourne Stars comfortably beat Sydney Thunder by eight wickets at Carrara Oval.

Australia international Maxwell clinched the Stars' third straight win in the Big Bash League with 16 balls remaining by launching a huge six over deep midwicket that took them past the target of 136.

Melbourne now sit second in the table, while the Thunder slipped to fifth after a third loss in their last four outings.

Sydney opener Jos Buttler reclaimed his place as this season's leading run-scorer from D'Arcy Short, but he fell for just 18 and Scott Boland (2-28) added the scalp of Callum Ferguson for a golden duck off the next ball.

England Test captain Joe Root made 26 off 28 deliveries before being dislodged by Marcus Stoinis (2-29), who denied Daniel Sams a half-century after he stuck four sixes en route to a 25-ball 42.

Stoinis (34) also played an important role with the bat for the Stars, but it was Maxwell and Larkin who got them across the line in fine style.

 

STOINIS SHOWS ALL-ROUND BRILLIANCE

Having been named in Australia's ODI squad for the forthcoming series against India, Stoinis showed just how useful he can be in the limited-overs formats.

He took the key wickets of Root and Sams as the Thunder were limited to an achievable total, while six fours - including three in succession off Jono Cook (0-22 from two overs) - displayed his game-changing ability.

 

DIAMOND DUCK FOR COOK

Cook will no doubt have been disappointed with his performance, having met an embarrassing end in the first innings.

Gurinder Sandhu's (3) decision to squeeze two out of a dink to long off enabled Ben Dunk and Dwayne Bravo to combine to whip the bails off and remove Cook for zero runs and without facing a single delivery.

Bravo had removed Chris Green (14) two deliveries prior as the Stars stymied the Thunder late on.

 

FAWAD FUMBLES FOR THUNDER

Sydney's bowling attack was finding it difficult to break Maxwell and Larkin's union, and a blunder from Fawad Ahmed did little to help.

He may have claimed an important wicket in the shape of Stoinis, but when Sam Rainbird's delivery came off the thigh of Maxwell and headed for the boundary at fine leg, Fawad slid beyond the ball and let it through his grasp for four leg byes.

To add insult to injury, Maxwell pulled a short ball beyond Fawad off the very next delivery to add another four runs.

Pakistan ground out an 11-run win over Australia to seal a series victory with a match to spare despite the best efforts of Glenn Maxwell in Friday's second Twenty20 international. 

Aaron Finch will skipper Australia's Twenty20 team after being handed the captaincy ahead of the country's three-match series with Pakistan.

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