He’s fast, hostile and accurate. Mitchell Starc can make the batsmen smell leather with his short-pitched deliveries; leave the stumps in a mess with his yorkers. The left-arm pace ace was off the boil last season, leaving Australia worried. But Starc appears to have rediscovered his mojo on the big stage — the World Cup.
The 29-year-old Starc’s five for 46 against the West Indies in a tense game of fortune swings at Trent Bridge was as influential as they come.
It was a spell where we saw glimpses of the Starc of old. He swung the new ball, got it seam around and the movement was laced with bounce. And he settled the issue with the older sphere, closing out a 15-run win for Australia.
A chase of 289 was not beyond the West Indies, a side of powerful hitters who could have thrived as the surface at Nottingham eased out in the afternoon.
Starc gave Chris Gayle a hard time with the new ball, with the iconic West Indian southpaw finding it tough to dig out the toe-crushers.
An inspired Starc finally got Gayle with a yorker but was fortunate that his earlier delivery was not called a no-ball.
Men like Starc make the most of their luck. He returned to torment the West Indies. Starc can angle the ball across or get it to dart back from over the wicket or bring into play deadly reverse swing from round the wicket.
The left-armer removed the dangerous Andre Russell, following the West Indian as he moved towards the leg-stump to create room, and extracting a mishit that was held beyond point. Then, Starc dismissed the big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite, done in by a slow, dipping full toss, and the well-set Jason Holder, who was late on a hook to a quick bouncer and gloved to short fine-leg.
He, indeed, had the final say in a game where Australia had roared back from a precarious 79 for five, with Nathan Coulter-Nile’s 92 being at the heart of the fightback.
Starc didn’t have a great game against India on a flat deck at the Oval but there is a lot of cricket left in the competition.
But then, Starc has smelt blood against the Caribbeans and this World Cup is still young.
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