England decimated South Africa with the ball at The Oval to set up an utterly comprehensive seven-wicket win that takes them to the Champions Trophy final.
The hosts’ frontline bowlers consistently threatened and, aided by a few injudicious shots, reduced the Proteas to 80 for eight in the first semi-final.
Predictably, paceman James Anderson led the way with two early scalps, and man of the match James Tredwell was equally impressive as four wickets fell in as many of the spinner’s mid-innings overs.
That left the visitors eight down and it was only a South Africa record ninth-wicket stand of 95 between David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt that avoided humiliation.
Stuart Broad ended that alliance and the innings in consecutive balls, leaving the Proteas all out for 175 in the 39th over and Miller stranded on 56 from 51 deliveries. Anderson returned 2-14 and Tredwell 3-19.
Although Alastair Cook, who had won the toss, and Ian Bell were caught behind early in the reply, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root ensured there were no jitters with an assured century stand.
Root was bowled behind his legs by JP Duminy just short of joining Trott on a fifty, but victory soon came with 12.3 overs to spare. Trott, who had gone to his half-century via an exquisite cover-driven four off Robin Peterson, was unbeaten on 82 from 84 deliveries.
England now have the chance to right the wrong of losing in the final the last time the Champions Trophy was played on these shores in 2004, when West Indies snatched victory at this ground.
The hosts will learn the identity of their opponents in Sunday’s showpiece, which will be held at Edgbaston, from tomorrow’s semi-final between India and Sri Lanka at Cardiff Wales Stadium.
The England seamers initially took advantage of extremely humid conditions with conventional swing, albeit they enjoyed success on a typically true Oval pitch.
In the first two overs Anderson trapped Colin Ingram in front and Steven Finn, replacing the absent Tim Bresnan who became a father at 3pm when Max Geoffrey was born, crucially had Hashim Amla caught behind via an unusually ponderous shot away from his body.
Peterson, who scored fluently including three consecutive fours off Finn, and Francois du Plessis rallied until Anderson had the former lbw for 30 in similar fashion to Ingram. Broad soon snared Proteas captain AB de Villiers, caught behind via a rash drive to put England on top.
The hosts’ dominance became utter when Tredwell, who again featured instead of the injured Graeme Swann, struck three times. Duminy was leg before, du Plessis caught behind for 26, Ryan McLaren run out from slip by the quick-thinking Trott and Morris caught behind.
At eight wickets down in the 23rd over, South Africa took the batting powerplay from which Miller and Kleinveldt - playing in place of sidelined paceman Dale Steyn - benefitted to the tune of 38 runs.
With sun breaking through the clouds to make batting easier and Cook turning to non-specialist bowlers Root and Ravi Bopara, the ninth-wicket pair upped the ante with some hefty blows.
Broad accordingly adopted the tactic of bowling short at Kleinveldt, who on 43 - his highest ODI score - offered a leg-side catch that diving wicketkeeper Jos Buttler accepted. The next ball was another vicious short one, from which Buttler held his sixth catch of the innings.
4:58pm - END OF MATCH - ENG 179/3 - ENGLAND WIN BY SEVEN WICKETS TO REACH CHAMPIONS TROPHY FINAL!! Eoin Morgan repeats Trott’s trick with two consecutive boundaries, this time off Morris through point and then cover. In the next over Trott produces yet another cover-driven four, off Peterson, to complete a comprehensive victory with 12.3 overs to spare. Trott is unbeaten on 82 from 48 balls and Morgan 15 from 19.
4:47pm - Trott scores two back-to-back fours off Tsotsobe, the first via an extra-cover drive and the next with a flick through mid-on. With 18 needed to win, the batting powerplay has to be taken.
4:33pm - WICKET! Root b Duminy 48; Eng 146/3 - Having thumped four down the ground and pulled four more to herald a hundred partnership earlier in the over, Root goes across his stumps and attempts to paddle-sweep but is bowled on middle-and-leg. The stand was worth 105 from 128 balls.
4:25pm - Trott swivel-pulls McLaren to the fine-leg boundary, moving England to 135 for two from 30 overs. They need 41 more to reach the final.
4:19pm - Having pulled McLaren to the rope in the previous over, Root excellently drives four more through extra-cover. The 22-year-old has a smile on his face as he again enjoys himself in the international arena.
4:08pm - FIFTY! Trott (64b 7x4 0x6) - Trott pushes an over-pitched Peterson ball through the cover fielders to register his second half-century of the competition.
3:59pm - Root takes a single to mid-off, where the fielder did well to save four, as England move to three figures.
3:56pm - Trott drives Morris through extra-cover for four, bringing up a fifty partnership from 68 balls, and later in the over Root inside-edges four more just out of the reach of wicketkeeper de Villiers. That cannot be considered a chance.
3:50pm - Peterson drops short to Trott, who swats four through midwicket. South Africa’s bowlers are lacking threat at present.
3:41pm - Root gets four more with another cut, this time off Ryan McLaren. At the end of the over England are 77 for two from 20, meaning the hosts need less than 100 to win. In the unlikely event of rain or bad light, there will be a result with England currently well ahead on Duckworth/Lewis.
3:33pm - Four leg-byes from Ryan McLaren’s bowling glance off Root’s pads to keep the scoreboard ticking over. In the next over the same batsman cuts a loose Tsotsobe ball for four.
3:25pm - Trott cover-drives Tsotsobe for four as England’s steady pursuit of 176 to reach the final continues.
3:16pm - Joe Root takes England to and beyond 50 with a neat back-foot drive off Kleinveldt through cover for three.
3:06pm - South Africa crowd Trott, facing Peterson’s spin, but the batsman avoids a maiden with a straight-driven four from the last ball.
3:01pm - WICKET! Bell c de Villiers b Kleinveldt 20; Eng 41/2 - Bell edges off the back foot, giving the wicketkeeper a regulation catch to his right.
2:57pm - Peterson delivers a maiden to Trott, at the end of which England are 39 for one from 10 overs.
2:53pm - CHANCE! Trott punishes Morris’ leg-stump half-volley with a trademark four between midwicket and mid-on. Later in the over Bell’s outside edge is beaten and Trott takes a suicidal single to midwicket but JP Duminy’s throw is wide of the non-striker’s stumps.
2:40pm - WICKET! Cook c de Villiers b Morris 6; Eng 22/1 - Cook is late on a pull and feathers an under-edge behind to give South Africa faint hope of victory. Jonathan Trott elegantly clips his first ball to the square-leg boundary.
2:39pm - AB de Villiers is mixing his bowlers up with Morris returning and Lonwabo Tsotsobe introduced. Bell twice cuts the latter to the rope for England’s first boundaries.
2:28pm - Another spinner, JP Duminy, takes over from Morris after just one set of six for the seamer and Cook chips him over midwicket for two.
2:24pm - Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson takes the other new ball, bowling initially to Ian Bell who immediately gets going with two to fine-leg.
2:15pm - The reply starts in glorious sunshine with Alastair Cook facing Chris Morris, who is wayward with two wides in the opening over.
South Africa Innings
1:31pm - WICKET! Tsotsobe c Buttler b Broad; SA 175 all out (38.4 overs) - Broad greets Lonwabo Tsotsobe with a fierce, short ball and Buttler holds his sixth catch of the innings. Miller is stranded on 56 from 51 deliveries.
1:29pm - WICKET! Kleinveldt c Buttler b Broad 43; A 175/9 - Broad’s tactic of short bowling pays dividends as Buttler brilliantly takes a diving chance down leg, ending a stand of 95.
1:18pm - FIFTY! Miller (45b 5x4 2x6) - Having hit Broad past a diving midwicket for four, Miller raises a valuable half-century to richly-deserved applause.
1:16pm - Kleinveldt and Miller each smack four in a Root over, the former down the ground and the latter slog-swept. Another four from Kleinveldt, who has comfortably his highest ODI score, helps the pair to a South Africa record partnership for the ninth wicket.
1:06pm - Kleinveldt, who clubbed Ravi Bopara over his head for four in the bowler’s previous over, flicks the same seamer aerially towards long-on where Broad cannot quite get there to attempt a catch.
12:59pm - Joe Root is introduced and Kleinveldt slog-sweeps for six over midwicket to herald the fifty partnership - South Africa’s first of the innings.
12:48pm - Miller, a dangerous attacking player who starred for Yorkshire in last year’s Friends Life t20, uppercuts Broad for six as the powerplay benefits the Proteas by 38 for none.
12:33pm - REVIEW! Miller pulls Finn for four. Later in the over England check an lbw shout against Kleinveldt, with replays showing the ball going just down leg, and South Africa reach three figures to ironic cheers from a near-capacity crowd.
12:28pm - From the first ball of the powerplay David Miller launches Finn over long-off for six and in the next over Rory Kleinveldt hits Tredwell for an aerial four in the same direction, denting the spinner’s figures which were 5-0-12-3 at the start of the over.
12:18pm - WICKET! Morris c Buttler b Tredwell 3; SA 80/8 - That’s four wickets in as many Tredwell overs. This one is more conventional than the last as Chris Morris nicks behind. At the end of the over, the 24th, South Africa take the batting powerplay.
12:08pm - WICKET! McLaren run out 1; SA 76/7 - Wickets keep coming although this is an unusual one. Ryan McLaren advances to spinner Tredwell and the ball glances off his pad en route to Jonathan Trott at slip. The quick-thinking Trott sees McLaren well out of his ground and throws the ball at the stumps. South Africa are in disarray.
12pm - WICKET! du Plessis c Buttler b Tredwell 36; SA 70/6 - The right-hander attempts to force off the back foot and feathers a catch behind to Buttler, who holds his third catch of the innings. England are utterly rampant now!
11:50am - WICKET! Duminy b Tredwell 3; SA 63/5 - England’s failure to review in Tredwell’s previous over costs little when Duminy plays on off the back foot. In the over before, du Plessis aerially on-drove Broad for four immediately after four leg-byes went to fine-leg.
11:42am - James Tredwell takes over from Anderson and has a close leg-before shout against Duminy on nought. England opt not to review and replays show that, if they had, the batsman would have been out with the ball going on to hit leg stump.
11:38am - REVIEW! JP Duminy narrowly survives falling first ball thanks to technology. Rod Tucker gives the left-hander lbw to Broad but replays show the ball pitched fractionally outside leg stump.
11:34am - WICKET! de Villers c Buttler b Broad 0; SA 50/4 - Another crucial scalp for England. The ball after du Plessis takes South Africa to 50, a frustrated de Villiers drives wildly with no footwork at a delivery well outside off stump and gets a thin under-edge through to Buttler who holds on low down.
11:31am - Broad and Anderson put pressue on new batsman AB de Villiers with tight overs. England are right on top here.
11:20am - WICKET! Peterson lbw Anderson 30; SA 45/3 - With a similar delivery to the one that accounted for Ingram, Anderson ousts the fluent Peterson. He and du Plessis consider a review but decide against it before Anderson completes a wicket-maiden for figures of 6-1-10-2.
11:14pm - Du Plessis plays an agricultural drive for four through extra-cover off Broad, who is yet to find a consistent line and length. Anderson, having bowled a few leg-side wides to left-handers, is right on the money now. South Africa move to 45 for two from the 10 compulsory powerplay overs.
11:04am - CHANCE! Stuart Broad replaces Finn and Ian Bell almost holds a stunning catch off Peterson, diving to his left at extra-cover. It was only a half-chance. Later in the over Francois du Plessis elegantly clips four through midwicket.
10:58am - Peterson takes Finn for three consecutive fours - a pull, a flick off his pads and a drive through mid-off - to show South Africa’s first fight of the day.
10:48am - Peterson elegantly cover-drives Finn for four, although the ball slowed up as it neared the rope to suggest the outfield is not as fast as normal. To appreciate the significance of Amla’s wicket, it’s worth remembering he averages a century every six and a half one-day internationals. He has now gone seven without one.
10:39am - WICKET! Amla c Buttler b Finn 1; SA 4/2 - A huge breakthrough for Steven Finn, who has been preferred to Stuart Broad to open the bowling. Hashim Amla, South Africa’s most prolific batsman, hesitantly plays away from his body and toe-ends a catch behind to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
10:33am - WICKET! Ingram lbw Anderson 0; SA 1/1 - Having had the national anthems, James Anderson opens the bowling to Colin Ingram who soon plays and misses at a ball swinging away from him. Next delivery Anderson cleverly brings it into the left-hander, who is trapped in front. Great start for England! Robin Peterson, who batted at eight in the last game, is the new man.
10:20am - Final preparations are being made for the game. The stakes are high for England, whose best Champions Trophy finish was as runners-up in 2004 at this ground, and South Africa, who won the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Stuart Broad, James Tredwell, James Anderson, Steven Finn.
South Africa: Colin Ingram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (captain & wicketkeeper), JP Duminy, Francois du Plessis, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Chris Morris, Rory Kleinveldt, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
10am - ENGLAND WIN TOSS AND BOWL FIRST. Swann and Bresnan are not available, with Tredwell playing again and Steven Finn making his first appearance of the tournament. South Africa’s leading paceman Dale Steyn has been ruled out with a groin injury.
9:50am - England have an injury concern over Graeme Swann, who missed the opening game with a back problem and Sunday’s defeat of New Zealand due to a tight calf. If Swann is not fit, James Tredwell is likely to play again. Tim Bresnan, who was yesterday in Yorkshire with his expectant wife, was not among the England players during the warm-up. News of the toss is coming up.
9:40am - The England and South Africa squads are warming up on the outfield in humid conditions here in south London. The weather is forecast to stay that way today, which should be free of the rain that almost knocked England out in Cardiff on Sunday.
9:30am - Good morning and welcome to ecb.co.uk’s live text commentary from The Oval on the Champions Trophy semi-final between hosts England and South Africa. The game is due to begin at 10:30am. Stay here for the build-up, including news of the toss and the teams in around half an hour.