Cricket World Cup 2019 – Our chances are as good as any team: Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc (AFP Photo)

Mitchell Starc said the lessons learnt from a defeat by title rivals India were behind champions Australia‘s impressive surge to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Aaron Finch’s side had already booked their place in the last four ahead of an 86-run thrashing of New Zealand — the team they beat in the 2015 final — at Lord’s on Saturday. Australia were in trouble at 92/5 after winning the toss on a used pitch before a stand of 107 between Usman Khawaja (88) and Alex Carey (71) propelled them to a competitive 243-9, for all Trent Boult took a last-over hat-trick.

Jason Behrendorff, as he had done in the midweek defeat of England, then struck up front before fellow left-arm quick Starc, the leading bowler at this World Cup, took his tournament tally to 24 wickets with 5-26 as New Zealand slumped to 157 all out.

Australia’s only reverse in eight group matches at this World Cup was a 36-run defeat by India and Starc, the player of the 2015 World Cup, said: “There’s a calmness around the whole group, even when things aren’t happening for us.

“Since India, we’ve taken wickets in the middle regularly. We were all a little off in that India game. We didn’t start well today but to scrap to a good score was fantastic for the middle order,” added the 29-year-old.

“I’m stoked to be playing a part in this World Cup. Our chances are as good as any team, always spoke about peaking ahead of the tournament. We’ve got guys who are ready to go at different stages of the bowling innings,” said Starc. “Jason has been fantastic in the past two innings, he’s taken his opportunity with both hands.

“We’re finding ways to win. I think a big part of that is our calmness and I think that’s probably led by Finchie (skipper Aaron Finch). He’s been fantastic as a captain.”

After Saturday’s match, where his haul included the prize wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, Starc admitted: “It was a worn wicket, so we probably had the rub of the conditions bowling second on that. It’s a great result today but one win isn’t going to win the World Cup.”

Starc’s return is also the best haul of the tournament. Australia have a week off until their final group game against South Africa, by which time the wife of David Warner — the tournament’s leading run-scorer — should have given birth to the couple’s third child in Britain.

Starc said: “He packed his bag pretty quick. I think he’s out there enjoying the win, and tomorrow (Sunday) he’ll be a dad for the third time. Good luck to the Warners and I think when we see him in Manchester, he’ll have his hands full again.”