Starc, Boult in World Cup swing to the left
Melbourne : For the second time at this World Cup, Australia’s Mitchell Starc and New Zealand’s Trent Boult will be asked to deliver a killer blow that could determine their team’s fate in the final on Sunday.
The two lethal left-arm fast bowlers will go head-to head at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the tournament’s leading wicket-takers who lit up the group clash between the co-hosts exactly a month ago.
Boult grabbed 5-27 to bundle Australia out for 151 in Auckland before Starc hit back with 6-28 to leave the Black Caps nine down and only managing to go past the modest target due to a Kane Williamson six.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said it would be hard to forget the performance of both Boult and Starc in what was a “a tremendous advertisement for the game”.
“Mitchell and Boult put outstanding spells in that game and both were able to get the ball to swing quite substantially,” said McCullum. “They posed a lot of questions with wicket-taking deliveries.”
The two 25-year-olds have played a major role in taking the trans-Tasman rivals to the final, with Boult’s 21 wickets in eight games just one more than Starc. But the Australian has played a match less following a washed out game against Brisbane.
Boult has now taken more wickets in eight World Cup games than he did in his first 16 one-day internationals where he had only 18 scalps.
The Northern Districts bowler appears to have followed in the footsteps of his hero, Pakistan’s left-arm great Wasim Akram, with consistent pace and his ability to swing the ball both ways.
Boult is one of four New Zealanders, along with Williamson, Corey Anderson and Matt Henry, who will be making their first appearance at the gigantic 90,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground.
But he will have good memories of playing in Australia, being part of a historic New Zealand win by seven runs on his Test debut in Hobart in December, 2011. He took four wickets in the match.
He began his first World Cup appearance with two wickets each in the first two games against Sri Lanka and Scotland, managed just one against England before emerging his team’s hero against Australia.
In his next two encounters against Test-nations, Boult picked up four wickets against the West Indies and returned with figures of two for 53 against South Africa in the semi-final.
Starc, taller than Boult, generates a lot of pace and bounce but his wicket-taking delivery is the one that he brings in to the right-hander, usually a deadly weapon for left-arm fast bowlers.
He is Australia’s most prolific one-day bowler in recent times with 81 wickets in 40 matches that include three five-wicket hauls in his first 17 internationals.
Starc, who has extracted plenty from responsive Australian pitches, has been equally successful on slow, flat wickets. In three recent matches in the United Arab Emirates, he claimed nine scalps against Pakistan.
Starc may have failed to score a run in three vists to the batting crease in the tournament, but he is no bunny with the bat, having made 99 in the Mohali Test against India in 2013. AFP