Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh was extremely pleased with the way Aaron Finch-led side went about their business against England on a tricky surface at Lord's on Tuesday (June 25). The 1999 World Cup winning captain said Australia were more composed with their approach and that helped them topple England who played needless "free-spirited" brand of cricket in difficult conditions.
Both openers Finch and David Warner didn't look pretty while batting but the two gutted it out and added 123 runs for the opening wicket. The foundation laid by these two allowed middle-order batsmen to bat freely and come up with crucial cameos.
"Without doubt this was a commanding performance by a team that is gathering confidence and momentum at exactly the right time," Waugh wrote in his column for ICC.
"Australia played an old fashioned ODI game based around a solid platform with the bat from the rock-solid Aaron Finch and David Warner, allowing the rest of the order to capitalise and construct a challenging total on a pitch that more represented a Test match than a one-day game.
"It was a match that showcased skill and composure over brute strength and power largely because of a pitch that was fair to both bat and ball. It was a genuine contest won by a team that knows its game plan and believes it can go all the way."
Warner departed after scoring a half-century but Finch went on to convert it into a hundred. Waugh feels that Finch is playing his best cricket at the moment and is leading Australia from the front.
"Finch’s century was his best in the green and gold. He is at the top of his game right now; mentally tough, technically sound, focussed and trusting in his judgement of line and length. He is leading the charge and allowing others the freedom to relax and play their own way.
"Together with Warner, they continue to ensure Australia is ultra-competitive in every match by either posting an imposing total or chasing down any target."
Waugh was equally impressed by wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey who slammed an unbeaten 38 off 27 deliveries to push Australia closer to that 300-run mark. For Waugh, Carey is a "hybrid of Michael Hussey and Michael Bevan".
"Carey plays with the perfect mixture of calmness and intent, assessing the situation and pouncing on any opportunities that present themselves in the frenetic pressure of the final overs. He shapes as a potential match-winner for Australia in the back end of the competition."
Australia might have posted a decent total on the board but it was Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc who made the real difference in the second innings. Behrendorff was given the new ball and the left-arm paceman bowled with great control to finish with a five-wicket haul.
"Australian selectors must be congratulated for the bold selection of Jason Behrendorff and the faith they showed in presenting him with the new ball. It had an immediate impact, with Behrendorff producing one of the deliveries of the tournament - an unplayable late in swinger that sent a bewildered James Vince back to the pavilion and destabilised England’s chase.
"His five-wicket hall was not only significant for its impact on the match, but his ability to swing it in conjunction with Starc will have put all future batsman on notice that their techniques will be forensically examined."
Lastly, Waugh believes England are capable of making a comeback in this tournament but will have to be slightly smarter with their approach in tough conditions.
"England will feel deflated by their underwhelming effort in a match where they had a chance to flex their muscle and show why they were the pre-tournament favourites. Perhaps this loss will focus them as they now have no choice but to win all remaining matches much in the same way we did back in the 1999 World Cup.
"They are capable but they must locate the intensity and free-spirited style that has defined their cricket of recent times. They must now respond or face elimination."