Australia vs Bangladesh : Australia heading for WC win
Australia vs Bangladesh : A dominating series win over Pakistan in UAE and India on their home soil was enough to tag Oz’s as favourites heading into the biggest cricketing carnival. Ex-Australian cricketer warned everyone Australia should be good once the World Cup stage is set. However, none of them in its wildest dream would have thought Australia would be showing signs of its old self.
The Australian team that won World Cup in 2015. They were helped by fact most of their games were played at home, while the game they lost against New Zealand they were beaten comprehensively by swing and seam of Trent Boult. Fortunately, Australia have never been put through the same test again.
Comeback after being down and out
Come 2019 World Cup, Australia has faced umpteen number of battles against short-pitched bowling, quality spin, swing-seam movements threatening from time to time and even injuries. However, mighty Aussies have come out of the top of every challenge and have been winning from impossible situations.
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Against West Indies
Against West Indies, they were 79-5 before the No.8 batsman Nathan Counter Nile, and Steven Smith took them to 288. Even when Men in Maroon were batting at one halfway mark, Windies were 140-3, but next 25 overs yielded only 133 with the loss of six wickets. Moreover, against India, despite being down and out at 40th over, Alex Carey struck 55* off 35 balls to take Australia close to victory before India held its nerve in final four overs.
Pakistan looked set to take away game at the halfway stage of their batting before Starc struck with two wickets in an over to end the flicker of hope after its lower order rearguard action. Similarly, Sri Lanka chasing 334 where 87-0 at the end of 10 over. However, Mitch Starc struck to remove Kushal Perera and then came back to pick another three wickets during the remainder of the match. Even at the halfway mark, Sri Lankans were in the hunt at 156-2, but the collapse of 91-8 took the game away from its hand.
Clearly, at the halfway mark of its bowling, the opposition was in with higher chance to take away game but the second half has seen the great strike from the Aussies bowler to win the game. Mitch Starc has quietly become leading wicket-taker of the tournament with 13 wickets without looking menacing himself. David Warner has got 281 runs, but the strike rate (76.98) has gone down drastically, much below his career strike rate of 95.08 that made him one of the most feared batsman. Usman Khawaja hasn’t had an impactful score, and so has Shaun Marsh.
The first change bowler, Nathan Counter Nile when he looked to be getting into some rhythm broke down. Marcus Stoinis got injured. Adam Zampa is out of form while Nathan Lyon for some reason hasn’t been given a break.
Prolific and courageous captain Finch
Australia is the table topper without playing their best cricket. Isn’t that ominous sign with still half of the tournament to go. Much credit has to go the Aaron Finch the opening batsman and captain. As an opening batsman, he passed the highest score by an Australian batsman in World Cup beating Ricky Ponting 140 in 2003 World Cup final and now is leading run scorer in the World Cup with 343 runs at an average of 68. In fact, Aaron Finch-David Warner both have been most prolific opening pair of this edition of World Cup.
But it has to be the captaincy aspect that’s standout. Mitch Starc unable to get a swing in the early part of the games has been used judiciously in the spell of 2-3 overs at a different stage of games whenever captain needs wickets. Against Windies he delivered at the end with five wickets haul. With Sri Lanka he called back Starc when opening pair were going strong. In the match against Pakistan, despite Pak doing well in the first half of the batting, Finch didn’t give easy singles or two. He employed attacking position throughout which reaped the rewards. No doubt, former England captain Michael Vaughan called him the tactically best captain of this World Cup.
Another aspect is flexibility. It looks Australian wants to keep left-right hand combination going hence if Finch gets out Smith takes guard while if Warner is dismissed, Khawaja gets promoted. Even Maxwell got pushed up the order against Pakistan.
Maxwell offish have rejuvenated under Finch. In 2017 and 2018 his bowling was sparingly used. He went wicket-less from 19 overs under the captaincy of Smith. He completed his quota of wickets giving away 46 runs against Lankan Tigers when they were going great gun after 15 overs. His run out of Sarfaraz Ahmed against Pakistan cannot be overlooked. His terrific catch of Andre Rusell in crunch moment against Windies. He looked in good touch to pull it off against India with 28 of 14 balls. However, it was too much too late.
Can Australia fill in the gaps?
If Australia pull up its socks it could be the team that couldn’t be beaten. Australia next four encounters could galvanize the team. If they perform well against South Africa, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh they would be heading to the semi-final. Australia seems to be peaking at the right moment. In the latter half of the tournament, Adam Zampa or Nathan Lyon will get a look into playing eleven. However, given Australia experience of winning World Cup’s, and ominous sign’s of closing out tight games, they could be one of the teams to play in the finals at Lord. The next two weeks will be enthralling to see how Australia shapes up. If they do become World Champion,they have the team to dominate for next 3-4 years.So watch out for Oz!
Title: Is Australia quietly becoming formidable old-self? Australia vs Bangladesh