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Australia: Could it be a fifth World Cup title for them?

Coming out of a rough 20-month spell where they managed to scrape out just 4 wins from their 26 games, Australia may have started hitting the right notes on the eve of the 2019 World Cup. A 4-1 thrashing of India and a clean sweep of Pakistan, both in their own backyards, earlier this year, may have gone a long way in reviving the kangaroos’ flagging fortunes. Moreover, the return of their top two batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, from a one-year ban bodes well for the team from Down Under.

For the Aussies, Aaron Finch, appointed skipper for the WC 2019 and David Warner will open the innings and make for a formidable pair. Finch was in devastating form in the India & Pakistan ODI (One Day International) series, scoring two sensational knocks of 116 and 153 not out against the latter. Warner, too, is in great nick, totting up over 500 runs in the recently concluded Indian Premier League for his team Sunrisers Hyderabad. 

The presence of Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Alex Haley and Glenn Maxwell in the middle order will lend the batting further solidity. 32-year old Khawaja is having one of the best spells of his one-day career. Scores of 50, 38, 104, 91 and 100 against India in March this year helped him finish the series with 383 runs in five matches. Maxwell isn’t in the best of forms, but the Aussies will need him for his big-hitting abilities that could turn a match completely on its heads within a few overs.

Australia’s strength will come from their fast bowlers. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will lead the charge and will be backed by Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson and Jason Behrendorff. But it is worth noting that apart from Starc, none of the other fast bowlers have played more than 50 matches. Starc will be Australia’s spearhead although the left-arm quick had been sidelined in November 2018 by a pectoral injury and has hardly featured in any ODI since then. But he will be someone to watch out for this World Cup. Leg spinner Adam Zampa, who found great success in the sub-continent may not be able to do an encore under English conditions. The 27-year old will be expected to take wickets in the middle overs just to take the pressure off a not-so-experienced Australian pace attack. But make no mistake, the four-time champions are very much in line for a fifth. 

Barring a very tough fixture against India, Australia’s other initial games will be against Afghanistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which should help them establish an early lead in the tournament. The Aussies have enjoyed a one-month gap after their series against India and Pakistan which has allowed them to relax and re-charge their batteries ahead of the acid test.

Aaron Finch (captain), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (vice-captain & wicket keeper), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

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