Path to the CWC23 final - Australia peak at the right time
A record eighth-final appearance awaits Australia in the World Cup as the five-time champions take on India for the second time in a World Cup final. Their previous meeting happened two decades back, in the 2003 World Cup. The contest was won by Ricky Ponting’s side by a margin of 125 runs.
Although the Aussies lost their first two encounters in the Cricket World Cup, they regrouped and their campaign has since been unassailable.
The top-order has been in great form, but it is Glenn Maxwell’s revitalised aggression that sees them become a major threat in the middle overs. The pace attack has been great as usual, and Adam Zampa has been excellent, turning games around with his impact through the middle overs.
Before the World Cup final, let’s take a look at their run in the tournament so far:
Match 1, v India in Chennai: Spinners led the charge, as India made the most of a helpful surface. Useful forties from David Warner and Steve Smith ensured that Australia reached 199, a sub-par total on the wicket. However, a target of 200 seemed akin to 300 when Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc struck in style to reduce India to 2/3. A solid partnership between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul stabilised the innings and helped India clinch the contest by six wickets.
Match 2, v South Africa in Lucknow: Quinton de Kock’s attacking ton set the tone for South Africa’s innings, even as substantial contributions from other batters helped them past 300. Australia floundered in response, failing to come to terms with the pace of Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen and the turn of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Match 3, v Sri Lanka in Lucknow: Sri Lanka’s positive start after winning the toss saw them add 125 in no time. Australia were on the ropes for the second game in a row in the city of Nawabs, but a stunning catch from Warner turned the game around. Sri Lanka caved to the leg spin of Zampa and lost the rest of their side for merely 84 runs. Despite losing five wickets, Australia broke no sweat in what was a simple chase.
Match 4, v Pakistan in Bengaluru: An early drop proved costly for Pakistan, as Warner went on to churn out a stunning 163. Along with fellow centurion Mitchell Marsh, he helped Australia to a mammoth 367. Despite the best efforts from their top order, Pakistan were never quite in the chase.
Match 5, v Netherlands in Delhi: A northward shift in venues had little effect on Australia’s run in the tournament. They were already looking well set on their way to cross 300 at the 40th over mark when Maxwell arrived to blaze the fastest ton in the history of the tournament. This helped Australia finish on 399. A Zampa-led bowling effort then cleaned up Netherlands for 90, to give Australia a 309-run win. This remains the largest winning margin by runs in the history of the event.
Match 6, v New Zealand in Dharamsala: Australia went further north to the high altitudes of Dharamsala, and their total reached similar heights on the back of a sizzling ton from Travis Head. Rachin Ravindra and James Neesham nearly pulled it off for the Kiwis, but eventually, Australia overcame their trans-Tasman rivals by five runs.
Match 7, v England in Ahmedabad: An early stumble against the old rivals was overcome by a crucial stand between Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green before a Zampa cameo helped Australia finish at 286. A brief threat from Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, and Moeen Ali was overcome by the excellence of Zampa. The leg-spinner finished with 3/21.
Match 8, v Afghanistan in Mumbai: Led by an inspirational ton from Ibrahim Zadran, Afghanistan finished at 291/5. Their bowlers then came into the contest big time, reducing Australia to 91/7.
Glenn Maxwell rose to the occasion to play one of the greatest ODI innings of all time. Battling severe cramps, he smashed a double century, hitting 21 fours and 10 sixes in a masterpiece that helped Australia cross the line with three wickets in hand.
Match 9, v Bangladesh in Pune: Bangladesh batted first and racked up a strong total on a good batting wicket. However, Mitchell Marsh’s blazing 177* overcame that effort from the Tigers.
Semi-final 2, v South Africa in Kolkata: Just like in their opening encounter, Australia’s pacers fired with the new ball and cleaned up the Proteas top-order. A brilliant century from David Miller helped South Africa post 212.
A characteristic attacking start from Warner and Head put Australia ahead before South Africa tweakers made things even. Eventually, the tail withstood the spinners and Gerald Coetzee’s splendid spell to take them home by three wickets.