In a pivotal semi-final match, Australia’s opening bowlers leveraged surprisingly favorable conditions, complemented by their openers’ solid batting, to clinch a victory.
Mitchell Starc, who claimed the match’s first wicket and ended with impressive figures of 3 for 34, reflected on this success, also noting his presence during the scoring of the winning runs.
Starc, who had faced challenges earlier in the tournament, teamed up with Josh Hazlewood to dismantle South Africa’s top order, reducing them to 24 for 4 in the initial 12 overs.
The duo claimed five wickets in total. This phase of the game, despite the match’s subsequent twists and turns, was likely crucial in determining the outcome.
“Our success in the powerplay was a key factor,” admitted Starc. “Josh and I set the tone early on.
Getting wickets during the powerplay hasn’t been our forte this tournament, so achieving a rate like 2 for 18 was satisfying.
Josh’s performance, ending with figures of two for 12 from eight overs, was nothing short of remarkable.
“Josh’s precision, reminiscent of his Test match prowess, combined with our mutual support, provided us with the momentum we needed from the powerplay, carrying it into the middle overs. This was exactly the start we needed in such a high-stakes game.”
In their earlier encounter, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram had been instrumental in South Africa’s strong batting performance.
However, in the semi-final, both failed to leave a significant mark.
“We understood the importance of getting South Africa’s key players like David Miller and Heinrich Klaassen out early. Executing our plan with the ball was crucial today.”
Later, with the bat, Australia demonstrated aggression. David Warner’s rapid 29 off 18 balls, followed by Travis Head’s 62 off 48, saw Australia briskly chasing down the target of 213.
“Trav and Davey’s approach in the initial overs put immense pressure on South Africa,” Starc explained. “Their fearless batting during the crucial first 10 overs, a period often challenging in the tournament, set the tone. This partnership laid a solid foundation for us.”
Head’s innings was particularly pivotal, ensuring Australia was well on its way to the target within the first 14 overs.
Although South Africa’s spinners did manage to take wickets and tighten the game, Australia’s middle and lower orders had a relatively easier task ahead.
“Trav’s innings relieved early pressure, and he looked set to score even more,” Starc noted. “His performance, along with the opening partnership, was vital, especially considering how the game progressed. It gave us the luxury of not having to push too hard towards the end.”