Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], November 19 (ANI): As Australia prepares to lock horns against India in the final of ICC Cricket World Cup final at Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday, a key aspect to be discussed is the performance of Australian middle order in the tournament.
While Australia had a dramatic change of fortune following two big losses to India, the same cannot really be said for its middle-order lineup featuring Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, who are the team's anchors and Josh Inglis and Glenn Maxwell, the lower middle-order batters who are supposed to attack.
The Australian middle order has been highly inconsistent in this tournament. In Indian conditions, it has often struggled against spin.
These aforementioned batters have lost their wickets for a combined 30 times. Out of these, they have been dismissed a total of 13 times by spinners and 17 by pacers.
Smith and Labuschagne, the players whom this team looks up to for stability and continuation of momentum after fireworks in the first 10-20 overs, have fallen flat against spin. Smith has lost his wicket five out of eight times to spin while Labuschagne has been dismissed by spin four out of eight times.
The ones who were supposed to be Australia's most reliable, have in fact been the ones to disappoint the most. The statistics of Smith and Labuschagne read:-Smith: 298 runs in nine matches, average 37.25, two fifties.
-Labuschagne: 304 runs in 10 matches, an average of 33.77, with two half-centuries in nine innings.
Inglis, the power-hitter in the team has failed against pacers. Seven of his eight dismissals have come against pacers. The wicketkeeper-batter has poor numbers in this tournament: 159 runs in nine innings at an average of 19.87, with one fifty in eight innings.
Maxwell has been an exception, having gained monumental success so far. Though he has lost his wicket thrice to spin out of six dismissals, Maxwell atleast has numbers by his side.
In eight innings, he has scored 398 runs at an average of 66.33, with the fastest World Cup century ever (in 40 balls) under his belt. Maxwell immortalised himself with another masterclass in hitting, a brave knock of 201 against Afghanistan during a tense run-chase of 292, lifting Australia to a miraculous win from 91/7.
Australia has struggled in middle overs on some occasions in this tournament. The middle overs (11-40 overs) are a crucial stage where batters are supposed to do plenty of run-scoring without losing wickets. They are supposed to rely mainly on strike rotation and unleash attacking shots at the right time.
In their league-stage losses to India and South Africa, Australia had poor middle-over numbers of 113/6 and 124/5.
Australia did score 174/5 in middle overs against New Zealand, but 57 of them were made briskly by openers David Warner and Travis Head. For the rest of 20 overs or so, Australia could barely muster 117 runs.
In the semifinals against South Africa, Australia faced a huge scare by Proteas bowlers and could make 119/5 in their middle overs before Starc and Cummins guided them to a win.
Against India, Australia will have a tough challenge. Not only pacers Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj pop up every now and then in middle overs, but Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, the two frontline spinners will be unleashed on five-time champions to choke the run flow.
Can Australia go all-out or will India dominate them once again? Only time will tell. (ANI)