Ever since the ban on Smith and Warner, the Australian cricket team has been the pale shadow of its self. Fortunately, the ban has ended a couple of months before the world cup, allowing both the batsmen sufficient practice. Can there be better news for the Australian team, limping along for the entire year? Return of Warner and Smith has made the kangaroos strong again. The strong side is a favorite semi-final contender – alongside England and India – for cricket pundits and fans across the world. Let us look at the team balance and various other aspects of the defending champions that makes them favorite.
Return of Warner and Smith
This has to be the headline even at the end of the world cup – especially if Kangaroos defend the trophy. Both the players have announced their retirement with a bucket full of runs. Their recent form gives a feeling that the duo was never away from the highest level. This has to be a blessing to an Australian team, which otherwise would have struggled in the championship tournament.
Warne and Finch at the top make a solid opening pair, except for Finch’s doubts for incoming deliveries. If Finch can come over that, he’ll be scoring big, else he’ll be a cakewalk for every other pacer. Shaun Marsh at three adds the stability into the top order. Smith, Khwaja, Maxwell, and Carey make it a stable middle-order, and Stoinis instead of Khawaja makes the side balanced as well. In Stoinis and Maxwell, Australia has all-rounders of both the kinds that any team would envy about.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to start with and Stoinis as a first change makes any captain confident of a good start. Zampa and Lyon in the spin department give a variety to the bowling, as both the players turn the ball in different directions. However, it’ll depend upon the pitch for the selection of both the spinners, else only one would play. That last spot vacated by spinner would be taken up by either Coulter-Nile or Behrendroff.
As far as the third dimension – fielding – is concerned, Australia is one of the best teams. They are known to win the games with fielding as much as with the other two skills.
Australia looks set to challenge other favorites England and India for the title. They’ve done the job of defending the title in the past and world may not be surprised, if they do it again in world cup 2019.