NOTTINGHAM: Fresh off his match-winning five-wicket haul which played a pivotal role in Australia’s 15-run win over West Indies, Mitchell Starc has turned his focus to Australia’s next game, the high-octane encounter against India at the Oval on Sunday.
Australia made it two out of two on Thursday, whereas India got off to a winning start against South Africa. Acknowledging the depth India have in their batting, including their captain Virat Kohli and centurion from the last game, Rohit Sharma, Starc pointed out that Australia would first need to access the conditions before coming up with plans to contain India.
“They’ve got depth in their batting, they’re strong throughout. Virat is obviously one of their key batsmen. Rohit scored a hundred, as well, so we’ll have a chat about them as a bowling group, but at the same time we’ve got to remember what we can control, and that’s – I guess that’s our strengths and where we want to bowl to the conditions, as well,” Starc said.
“Look, it’s different conditions again. We’re playing at The Oval. I guess taking a little bit out of how they played against South Africa yesterday; they played pretty well. I didn’t see too much of their batting. I watched their bowling.
“We go to The Oval tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll be at the ground but we’ll be there the day before and have a look at conditions there. I guess talking about a bowling group, for us it’s to continue talking about what we do really well and what we can control. We know they’re a fantastic team.”
Talking of exciting contests, Starc had an interesting one with Chris Gayle, having him in all sorts in trouble during his first spell. Starc dismissed Gayle twice, but the decisions were overturned. He finally, successfully struck the third time, sending the batsman back out lbw on the backdrop of a bit of a controversy.
“I’ve had some good battles with Chris over the years, and he’s obviously a major weapon for them, and we just saw a little glimpse of it today, how strong he can be when he strikes that ball. He’s so strong, and I guess he finds the gap hitting over the top, doesn’t he? Yeah, he’s a huge weapon for them, and we knew that going into this contest that they’re going to have a few really big strikers and lots of boundaries, which he’s one of. Yeah, but we were very fortunate to get him early enough to put them on the back foot again with the new ball,” Starc said.
Starc, in his final spell put West Indies out of the contest, dealing telling blows in the form of Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite’s wickets. Before that, he had also dismissed Andre Russell. Starc spoke about the decision to come on just when Dre Russ was beginning to line himself for the big hits.
“It’s up to Finchy. I think one thing he communicated to all the bowling group was to stay ready at all times, which is what you’ve got to do in one-day cricket,” Starc pointed out.
“Things can change very quickly, whether it be a wicket or someone gets a few shots away, you’ve got to be prepared to bowl at all different stages, whether it be in the first, second or third Powerplay. You’ve got to be prepared for 1- or 2-over spells or for 4- or 5-over spells.
“That was communicated back in Australia before we came to the UK, and something that we’ve all worked really hard on is being ready for whether it is an Andre Russell comes out and you want to attack him or whether you need to defend or bowl that death stuff a bit earlier. We’re all prepared for that. We’ve got a great bowling attack that can do that.”
With six wickets from two games, Starc feels he is happy with the progress he’s making. More importantly, he has rediscovered his inswing, which made him the highest wicket-taker at the World Cup four years ago. Even against the Windies, Starc bowled quick and showed intent, while occasionally clocking over 150kmph.
“I felt really good today. Rhythm is starting to feel really good, and the things I’ve been working on the last few months are really coming to fruition, so that’s a huge positive for me,” he said.
“Yeah, as long as I can keep contributing to the group the way I’ve done today and hopefully the last couple of weeks, it’s a great sign for the group going forward, and we can start to string performances together. As I said before, a lot of things we can improve on, but if we can all keep contributing and having a great tournament, it’s going to result in some really positive cricket for Australia.”