Aaron Finch has found form with the bat at the right time, taking man of the match honours with a gutsy 63 off 44 balls to help Australia grab an important win over a potent Ireland outfit.
With Ireland winning the toss and sending Australia in to bat first, it was all up for grabs at the Gabba. Finch and David Warner started procedures off slowly, with Ireland’s attack sensing the occasion, bowling superbly in the powerplay.
Finch slowly built to his beastly best, taking the game on when he could but also settling procedures every time Australia lost a wicket.
A tight partnership with Mitchell Marsh saw the skipper become the anchor of the innings, allowing his teammates to go full throttle. The focus of partnerships was Finch’s key factor in his innings, as Australia looked to build on a total that at one stage was looking to be a par 160.
The game changing partnership with Marcus Stoinis was the factor for Finch and Australia to really get going. The middle overs proved to be the difference, with the Irish bowlers under the pump. Australia piled on 1-96 between overs seven to 15, which put the pressure on Ireland to recover the innings.
Finch and Stoinis built a 70 run partnership to get Australia across the 150 barrier. This would mark Finch’s downfall though, as he got caught on the boundary.
A remarkable 63 off 44 put Australia in a match-winning position, and was a sight to see for fans across the country who had been crying out for a performance like this.
“The support from the change room and support staff has been unbelievable,” Finch said post-match.
“T20 is a high risk game, sometimes you get it off the middle and sometimes you don’t. Like I said, when they went to try and bowl really wide it was easier and tough when they took the pace off.”
Finch created the opportunity for Australia to get to any score by the end of its 20 over innings, reaching the score of 179/5. With 180 to get, Ireland needed to be positive with its batting from the outset to have any chance of chasing down the total.
“It wasn’t the easiest wicket, it was a lot slower than what we expected,” Finch continued.
“They changed their pace really well and bowled a lot of cutters early in the innings, it was hard to get a rhythm and we did well to get 180.”
Ireland Captain Andy Balbirnie and experienced opener Paul Stirling signaled their intent in the opening, advancing and swinging hard trying to use the pace and bounce of the Gabba pitch to their advantage.
By the end of the powerplay however, it was looking grim for the visitors, as they had already lost five wickets. Australia was on the front foot to victory thanks double wickets by Glenn Maxwell in the third over, and Mitchell Starc’s two in-swinging clean bowled beauties in the fourth over.
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Australia may have had designs on wiping out its net run rate deficit in one fell swoop, needing a win of over 75 runs to see its net run rate go above England’s. But that did not take into account the spell from Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker, hitting a brilliant unbeaten 71 off just 48 deliveries.
He had little support though, with only Gareth Delany (14) and Mark Adair (11) lasting more than ten balls in the middle.
Whilst Australia had the game pretty comfortably early on, things started to turn a bit sour with a few injury concerns.
Finch was one who grabbed the most attention, limping heavily around the ground, and finally coming off in the eighth over. Finch confirmed post-match to the lead broadcaster a hamstring injury.
“I’ll get a scan tomorrow. Unfortunately I’ve had a history of them so we’ll see how I go,” he said.
“It doesn’t feel too bad at the moment, but generally overnight they can stiffen up. We’ll get a scan and get the full results.”
It wasn’t the only injury scare for Australia, with Tim David not even starting on the field for Ireland’s innings. Sub fielder Steve Smith was in attendance for the entirety of the innings for David, who also suffered a hamstring injury. Finch confirmed post-match it was tightness.
“Just a little bit of hammy tightness, he [Tim David] sat out as a precaution.”
With Marcus Stoinis and Josh Hazelwood both leaving the field as well, at one stage, Australia had three sub-fielders on the GABBA.
Cameron Green and Ashton Agar were all seen on the field at once with Australia’s injury woes.
Australia completed the victory however, bowling out a potent Ireland outfit for 137.
Ireland, which is one of the great stories to come out of this World Cup, could not complete a third heroic underdog story. The attitude it took into the contest was more than respected by cricketing lovers both at the ground and watching around the world.
Group 1 is set for a thrilling finish to see who moves into the semi finals. Australia now awaits further results and take on Afghanistan this Friday, November 4 at the Adelaide Oval.
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