Starc turns sights to ‘world’s best’ India as Australian attack hits peak form
Starc was out in the middle alongside captain Pat Cummins to wrap up the three-wicket win over South Africa with the bat.
But it was with the ball that the left-armer had the biggest impact, turning the screw alongside new-ball partner Josh Hazlewood to leave the Proteas reeling at 24/4.
“It’s probably not been the tournament I would have liked from the get-go, but it’s nice to step up in a big game," Starc said. "And I think our powerplay was probably what got us on our way.
“There were other key moments through the day with bat and ball. But to start the game like that with Joshie and I, powerplay wickets have probably been not our strong suit through the tournament so it's nice to have a powerplay of, what, two for 18, or something like that.”
The relentless quality of the opening pair did indeed see South Africa limited to 18/2 from the first ten overs, with Hazlewood taking 1/6 and Starc 1/10 in their five overs apiece.
But a typically modest Starc was keen to speak more about his bowling partner, with both going on to take additional wickets – Hazlewood removing Rassie van der Dussen and Starc dismissing Aiden Markram and later Keshav Maharaj.
“The way Josh bowled throughout to finish two for 12 (from eight overs) was incredible,” Starc said, with his own figures finishing on 3/34 from ten.
“I think looking at Josh's pitch map, that's what he does so well in Test Match bowling. He was incredible today and the way we run off each other to have that powerplay that we did and carry some momentum through the middle was how we want to start matches. It was nice to do it in a big game.”
The new-ball pair will undoubtedly have a big part to play if Australia are to overcome the tournament hosts in Sunday’s final.
India’s top three of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli have all enjoyed impressive tournaments, scoring mountains of runs to set up their side’s unbeaten progress to the final.
But Starc says he’s already relishing the prospect of taking the Indian top order on.
“It’s why we play the game. We want to take on the best. They've been the best in the tournament so far and we both find ourselves in the final.
“That's what World Cups are about. You want to take on the best throughout and we certainly come up against a team that have obviously led from the front through the tournament and they're undefeated.
“We played them in the first game of the tournament (when India won by six wickets), now we get to take them on in the last. So yeah, what a place to be at the end of a World Cup!”
A record and partisan crowd is expected in Ahmedabad on Sunday, but Starc says both sides know all about performing under pressure on the big occasion.
“Certainly, guys in both changing rooms have been there before at different formats. Both teams played each other in the [World Test Championship] Final earlier in the year (which Australia won at The Oval in London). I don't think either changing room is new to big occasions.
“It's certainly going to be a big occasion in a World Cup Final in India. It's going to be loud. There's going to be a lot of passion there.
“It's going to be a fantastic occasion and no doubt there's going to be different amounts of pressure at different times on both teams.
“But yeah, I think it's just going to be a great spectacle of cricket. And certainly, everyone in our changing room is looking forward to the occasion.”
India and Australia’s men have met in a World Cup Final before, with the Aussies running out comfortable winners in Johannesburg back in 2003.
And while Starc is undoubtedly fired up by the prospect of facing India on Sunday, he isn’t likely to call on memories of that match, when he would have been 13 years old.
“Apart from Australia winning, I don't know what happened in that game,” he said.
“It was 2003, I was probably asleep. I don’t know, I can't remember what I did two weeks ago!”