Australia romped home to a much-needed win against Sri Lanka to acquire the top spot On the World Cup points table with four wins under their belt. Aaron Finch blasted a match-winning 153 after which, their bowlers did well to pull things back as Sri Lankan openers threatened to take the game away.
Aaron Finch proves his mettle in style
The one thing that separates men from boys is the ability to step up and deliver on the big stage. After a string of low scores, the year 2019 has been phenomenal for Aaron Finch and his staggering average of over 57 corroborates the belief.
Despite the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, it is pivotal for the mainstays to fire and set the tone for others. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the onus of scoring massive runs is on the responsible shoulders of David Warner, Steve Smith and Finch. The set-up is very similar to that of India’s top-order, where either one of the top three has to go big in order to get big totals on the board.
Coming back to this game, any team cannot be written off and Sri Lanka was never going to be a cakewalk, especially on the batting-friendly track of London. Finch fired on all cylinders and plundered a match-winning 153 to set the tone. He is the kind of a batsman, who might not look very pleasing to the eye, or play textbook style cricket but whatever he does is very effective and poses a threat of a different kind.
Finch graph this tournament has been on the rise and this innings will only infuse immense confidence in him. With Australia’s top three peaking at the very right time, they now stand a chance to beat any team in the tournament. The only area where Australian batting would need some repair work would be their middle-order. At the end of 40th over, Australia looked good for a total of 350 plus but a sudden collapse meant they were restricted to 334, courtesy to Glenn Maxwell’s cameo. In the game against Pakistan too, they were bundled out for 307 after getting an emphatic start. Although it has not cost them heavily so far, teams like England, New Zealand or even West Indies can exploit this brutally.
Sri Lankan openers weave magic; this is the way going ahead
A target of 335 meant Sri Lanka had to defy the numbers and script history but by looking at their languishing form, it was too much to ask. However, when Sri Lankan openers commenced their innings, the odds changed in a span of few overs. They took on the reputed Australian attack with flair and started attacking from the word go. A team like Sri Lanka was bound to create an upset or two and this game looked like the one, but a middle-order failure cost them heavily.
While chasing such a big total, it is mandatory for the openers to get a good start and set the tempo, which Kusal Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne did quite effectively. They did the smart thing by not getting their front foot in the line of the delivery when the ball was swinging and were quick enough to assess the situation. Kusal was the wrecker-in-chief and got good support from the skipper at the other end. They were not slogging but the whole approach was a calculated one and the aggression was well controlled.
With that kind of a start, most of the teams would have gunned down the total but Sri Lanka. Lack of enough support from other batsmen denied them a much-needed victory but they did take a lot of positives from this encounter. With four games to go in the tournament, Sri Lanka now find themselves in a tricky situation of winning every game, but if their openers continue to approach every inning in this manner, they will stand a greater chance of winning provided their middle-order render similar support.
Mitchell Starc – the shark in the ocean called World Cup
The lanky left-arm pacer engineered Australia’s successful World Cup campaign back in 2015, where he finished as the highest wicket-taker with 22 scalps in his kitty. Coming to this tournament, he had the experience but a hot and cold run in recent times only tightened the noose around him and he had to deliver.
In five games so far, Starc is leading the wicket chart with 13 scalps to his name at a staggering average of 19.15. In World Cups, Starc has bagged 35 wickets in 13 games at 13.51. He is the big match player and is gaining confidence with every game. Initially, he looked a bereft of oomph, but his performance against West Indies and Sri Lanka would do a lot of good in the matches to come.
Australia were running out of options when Sri Lankan openers were wreaking havoc at the top. They needed a wicket desperately and Starc stuck to the basics – attack the stumps. The moment Kusal missed one Starc was in business. With four priceless scalps, Starc nullified the threat and pulled things back for Australia.
Starc is one bowler, who is equally effective with the new ball as well as with the old one, especially with the white ball. He is one of the best white ball bowlers and Australia need him to hit the top gear if they are eyeing to make it to the finals.
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