Aussies- The defending and 5 times World Cup champions start their campaign for the 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on 1st June against minnows Afghanistan in Bristol. With the recent exposure against the hosts England, Finch would be proud of his boys especially Smith & Warner; who made a return to international cricket after a comparative amount of time.
A notable 5-0 whitewash attained against Pakistan in UAE and a remarkable 3-2 win in a 5 match ODI series against India- after losing initial 2 matches makes the defending champions currently dominating over the limited over format with its 9 matches undefeated streak, if the “unofficial” warm-up win against the hosts yesterday be included.
One of the biggest strengths for the Australian squad has been the fighting approach by their players and management staff in the biggest competitors such as the World Cup. Dominating the tournament from the late 20th century till the very date- this side has tackled the transition phase very smoothly; which has turned out to be a major reason for their success. Tasting their first victory in the competition back in 1987 under the leadership of Allan Border; the Kangaroos extended their winning approach in 1999 (Steve Waugh), 2003, 2007 (Ricky Ponting) and 2015 (Michael Clarke).
Post the 2015 World Cup triumph, the Aussies seemed to be unlucky in the 2017 Champions Trophy hosted by England as they were a victim to poor weather conditions and succumbed to arch-rivals England. Owing to the unfavoured conditions and lethargic approach, the Kangaroos were dumped out of the Champions Trophy for the second straight tournament remaining winless in the group stages.
The Kangaroo wounds weren’t limited to their limited overs performance on the field, but it struck them hard in form of the ball tampering scandal in March 2018- against the Proteas in the red-ball format which saw 2 of their protagonists- Steve Smith and David Warner being suspended from international cricket for a year.
The darlings of the World Cup re-grouped themselves and walked into the tournament with impressive wins over India and Pakistan in foreign conditions. All questions arising over the selection of Smith and Warner were answered by both the gentlemen’s wit, courage and dominating performances in the IPL 2019 for their respective franchises- Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Aussies stood true upon the expectations of their fans in the clash against the Champions Trophy winners, Pakistan which took place in the middle of the IPL season. Aaron Finch led Australian squad peaked at the right moment as they registered a thumping 5-0 victory over Pakistan to find solutions to their World Cup combination.
Australia squad for the tournament:- Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Glen Maxwell, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff, Kane Richardson.
The match winners included in the squad strengthen the chances for defending their title and also cope-up any hurdles coming their way in the tournament.
Aaron Finch:- Backed with 6 previous WC winners in the squad, the Aussie captain looks ahead to lead by example in his 2nd tournament with the additional responsibility of laying a strong foundation being a top-order batsman in the squad.
David Warner:- The 32-year-old opener, back in national colours after a span of 12 months aim to play a pivotal role alongside his skipper and cash-in his rich experience of already having played the tournament twice before.
Usman Khwaja:- The left-handed top-order batsmen appearing in his maiden WC, showcased great courage to return against England after a nasty blow to his head against Windies couple of days prior. However, the individual is set to be dropped to pave way for Finch-Warner for the main event.
Steve Smith:- The leading run-scorer for Australia in the previous edition of WC is likely to continue ahead its fine-form achieved against the hosts in the warm-up despite the crowd’s taunts.
Shaun Marsh:- The flexibility to bat at any position and is the highest run-scorer for Australia against England last year makes the individual ‘Mr. Dependable’ for the defending champions.
Marcus Stoinis:- “Biggest threat” according to Indian skipper, Virat Kohli and “World Cup danger man” according to the great, Ricky Ponting speaks the importance of the Aussie all-rounder in the competition. With notable contributions through bat and ball always reflecting by the individual despite batting down the order stands the ability to turn out to be the biggest asset for the defending champions.
Glen Maxwell:- With warm weather forecast and spin expected to play a massive role in England, Maxi aims to be a consistent factor throughout the tournament and a sure choice for “Playing XI” as the main edition resumes.
Alex Carey:- Making his debut in the ICC Cricket World Cup, 2019- the wicketkeeper-batsman is a likely starter for all the matches, being the player suitable for the job in the 15-member squad. Though being overshadowed by opponents WK in the tournament, the least experienced keeper for Australia since 1987 (winners of the WC) will expect a retro of what Greg Dyer did back then.
Mitchell Starc:- Making the second appearance for his side in the marquee event, Starcy looks to add some X-factor in the pace attack.
Pat Cummins:- With Brett Lee choosing his World Cup MVP in form of Pat, the co-vice captain for the national team in all formats look ahead for a lethal bowling partnership with other bowlers to make a mark in the tournament.