Finch’s form Australia’s silver lining

After missing out on the first two matches due to injury, the opener has sizzled in Indore and Bengaluru.

Aaron Finch en route to his 94 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

There has not been much to rejoice for Australia in this tour besides the renaissance of its opening batsman Aaron Finch. After missing out on the first couple of matches due to injury, the big-hitting batsman has bounced back rather strongly, bolstering the side’s jittery batting line-up.

If a century in Indore last week was a prelude, the 30-year-old batsman continued his good form at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday, hammering a knock of 94. Pairing with the centurion of the day - David Warner - Finch not only gave his side a solid start in the fourth ODI of the series, but also broke a 21-year-old record.

In September 1986, Geoff Marsh and David Boon had put up an opening stand of 212 against India, and that innings went into the history books as the side’s highest-ever opening partnership in One-Day Internationals. But on Thursday, that record was broken by Warner and Finch as they stitched a 231-run opening partnership.

While he looked disappointed after falling six short of another century, many believe that Finch’s success in the sub-continent has been due to the Indian Premier League (IPL). Playing for quite a few IPL franchises - Rajasthan Royals, Pune Warriors, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Gujarat Lions - Finch has been able to adapt to the conditions well, and that has helped him in the long run.

‘Genuine fighter’

“I would give the credit to the IPL. Finch is a genuine fighter, who is always willing to give his best, but then, playing the IPL has helped him know the Indian conditions better,” Shitanshu Kotak, former assistant coach of the now-disbanded Gujarat Lions, told Sportstar.

Having seen Finch from close quarters during the stint with Gujarat Lions, Kotak believes that the hunger for runs is what keeps the Aussie going. “A lot of players have also done well in the IPL, but Finch’s mindset and approach towards a game makes the difference,” Kotak said, adding that even during the IPL, the Aussie made it a point to work hard even after a good day at work.

“He has that fighting spirit, and coming with so much experience, he is always willing to walk the extra mile. He is very committed,” Kotak added.

‘Easy’

Pairing with Warner, Finch, on Thursday, took on the Indian bowlers at ease, and Kotak feels that having seen Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal in the IPL, he knows how to plan against them. “Earlier, the overseas players found it difficult to gauge the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, but now, it has been quite easy for them,” Kotak, who is now the coach of Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy, said.

Ahead of the fourth game, Finch had admitted that to succeed in India, it is important to “play 100 per cent”. “You have to play 100 per cent to beat (India) in these conditions. If you play 90 per cent, it's not good enough here,” Finch said.

Perhaps, that’s why, the Aussie has made it a point to take some time and settle down before going hammer and tongs at the Indian bowlers. So what if Australia has lost the series? It would be happy to see its batting mainstay regaining old rhythm.