Aussie mission HEXA in top gear
Reigning champion Australia were not considered red hot favorite for CWC 2019. They are not also ICC top ranked ODI team at the moment.
But as the World Cup 2019 mini marathon is approaching final blast five time champions Australia’s HEXA mission is getting into top gear. In Trans Tasman encounter yesterday Aussies thumped Kiwis by 86 runs further cementing their position at the top of the table with 14 points in 8 matches.
When Flinch, Warner, Smith and Maxwell did not deliver Khawaja and Carey did with the bat as Australia braving a Trent Boult hat trick produced 243/9 batting first at sunny Lords. The ever reliable Starc (5/26) looking menacing once again destroyed Kiwi challenge bundling them all out for 157.
Australia won huge and handsome by 86 runs. The fate of New Zealand is now hinging on their last match against England and match today between England and India for a berth to semi final. Amidst all these happening David Warner (516) is the top run getters so far in the tournament and M Starc (24 wickets) is away ahead of the others in wicket taking.
While analyzing about potential for winning world one must not forget that Australia has won of the past five editions and five times of the eleven editions. For a couple of years Australians following their last triumph at MCG in 2015 Australia past through a lean period.
But strong domestic base and in depth resources made them regrouping and reappearing in winning mode. Return of star performers David Warner and Steve Smith after serving suspension terms for ball tampering scandal to the team of Aaron Flinch gathering momentum made them clawing back to top form once again.
The analysts this time did not mention them in the same breadth with India and England. They also made a careful start of the mission HEXA campaign. But as the tournament progressed their prospects bloomed from the bud and now after 8 of the 9 matches they look impregnable.
Yesterday at Lords under bright sun shine Aaron Flinch winning the toss elected to bat despite of early morning juicy condition of the wicket and braving the strong pace bowling capacity of New Zealand.
Trent Boult and Ferguson struck early blows removing two in form blasters Flinch and Warner within the first power play. At 2/38 in 9.2 overs Australians had their back to the wall. When Ferguson sent back Smith and Jimmy Neesham accounted for Stoinis and Maxwell in quick succession Aussies late middle order along with Usman Khawaja had to steady the rocking boat.
Khawaja and wicket Keeper Alex Carey salvaged Aussie Innings with a match winning 107 runs 6th wicket partnership. From a miserable looking 5/92 it grew to 6/199 by 43rd over when Carey scoring 71 impressive runs in 72 deliveries got out.
Khawaja scored a polished 88. Trent Boult achieved a hat trick with the 3rd, 4th and 5th balls of the last over of the innings ended Australian innings at 243/9 in 50 overs. Boult had yet another impressive bowling performance of 4/51. His was the first and only occasion of a hat trick in ODI at Lords.
239 is not a huge score to defend. But Australia believed that on a wicket where Boult and Ferguson could tease Australian batsmen Starc, Cummins and Behrendorff were more than capable for repeating that. Nichols and Guptill were removed by Behrendorff early while Kiwis were playing and missing Starc deliveries very often.
Two senior professionals Williamson (40) and Taylor putting together in the 3rd wicket partnership tried to resurrect. But Cummins and Starc struck removed them deadly blows removing both in quick succession. Kiwi late middle order and tail could not absorb the avalanche that Starc triggered.
New Zealand got bundled out for 157 losing by a huge margin of 86 runs. Starc grabbed yet another five wickets haul taking his tally to 24 in this world. Taking 23 wickets in 2015 world cup he was player of the tournament. Behrendorff took 2/31.
Australia is once again shaping up as a major contender for yet another world cup triumph. They are definitely going to end up at the top of the table with 14 already from 8 matches .It is highly unlikely that Sri Lanka in the last match can turn the table on them .
New Zealand position is vulnerable. With 11 points from 8 matches their position is now 4th. Their match against England would become life and death for them. Off course if England loose to India today home team will have no chance of getting through. Pakistan and Bangladesh would remain very much in contention.
Points Table on June 29, 2019
It appears from above that Australia is the only team so far assuring a place in the semi final. India is most likely the other team that would join them soon. Any two of New Zealand, Pakistan, England and Bangladesh would join the top of the table.
There are chances that two or more teams may finish on same points making NRR the deciding factor. Pakistan may consider themselves very lucky getting a gift in the form of life line from Afghanistan.
ICC World Cup 2019 Match 37 Played at Lords on 29 June
Australia vs New Zealand
Australia 243/9 ( UT Khawaja 88, AT Carey 71, PJ Cummins 23 , MP Stoinis 21 , TA Boult 4/51, LH Ferguson 2/49) beat New Zealand 157 All Out ( KS Williamson 40, LPRL Taylor 30, MJ Guptill 20, MA Starc 5/26 , Behrendorff 2/31 ) by 86 Runs.
Player of The Match: Alex Carey