Melbourne: Who could have imagined at the start of the World Cup that in a batsman-dominated game, the player of the tournament would eventually be a fast bowler? Australia's Mitchell Starc showed that a bowler with the right pace and control can make a mark in cricket's biggest stage, even in conditions favouring willowers.
Consistently delivering at 145 km and swinging it both ways, Starc turned out to be a big tormentor of the top batting guns.
Sending the World Cup's biggest hitter, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, packing in the fifth ball of the final exemplifies this, and that could have laid the foundation for Australia's ultimate triumph at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"He was a bit too good for me today, that's for sure. Yeah, look, he deserves the Man of the Tournament for me. He was outstanding, bowled at good pace, he swung the ball late, and he was incredibly accurate all the way along, as well," McCullum said after the match.
Australia chased down the 184-run target with 101 balls remaining and seven wickets in hand, thus clinching their fifth world title on Sunday.
Asked at the final post-match presentation ceremony if he was the best bowler in the world, Starc said: "I wouldn't say that."
The 25-year-old left arm pacer finished this World Cup with striking figures of 22 wickets at an average of 10.18, with an economy rate of 3.5.
In a tournament that saw two double-hundreds, two batsman get past 500 runs overall and 35 centuries scored, Starc's figures of 6/28 in Australia's first match against New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland gave an indication of the promising career ahead for the Sydney-born cricketer.
Making his One-Day-International (ODI) debut against India at Visakhapatnam in October 20, 2010, he has till date played 41 ODIs claiming 83 wickets with a very good economy rate of 4.7.
Many feel Starc is surely on the right path in emulating the likes of Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram and teammate Mitchell Johnson as one of the most feared left-armers in cricket history.
"I think Starcky deserves the Man of the Series award. I think he's been exceptional," Australia's retiring captain Michael Clarke said after the seven-wicket victory in the final.
Starc feels he has reaped the fruits of his hard work.
"I've worked really hard at it for a number of months with Craig McDermott (Australian bowling coach). A few series ago, we sat down and to see it come to fruition... It's been phenomenal," he said.
Starc has been far from consistent as a Test player, being in and out of the team during his short 15-match career.
But in ODIs, he has been a completely changed bowler, standing by the skipper and delivering when the situation demanded the most.