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Mitchell Starc

Best I've seen for a long time: Maxwell

Allrounder full of praise for opening spell from Starc and Maxwell in Barbados

Pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been praised for their superb opening burst against the West Indies in Barbados, which allrounder Glenn Maxwell labelled "the best first 10 overs I've seen from Australia for a long time". 

NSW Blues teammates Starc and Hazlewood reduced the West Indies to 3-36 after the opening Power Play in their win at Kensington Oval on Wednesday, giving Australia the ideal start in a victory that earned them a spot in the ODI tri-series final.

Starc, who celebrated his 50th ODI with figures of 3-51, had openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher caught in the cordon during his opening five-over spell, while Hazlewood had left-hander Darren Bravo also caught behind the wicket. 

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Hazlewood (1-40 with three maidens) produced an astonishing 36 dot balls in his initial seven-over burst, including 17 consecutively to finish his spell, to put the Australians in full control early in the match.

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The momentum was arrested back by the Windies thanks to a record-breaking partnership between Marlon Samuels (125) and Denesh Ramdin (91), but the importance of the first 10 overs wasn't lost on Maxwell in the wake of the tense six-wicket win. 

"That was probably the best first 10 overs I've seen from Australia for a long time," Maxwell said. "And with an inexperienced line-up as well.

"Starcy was only playing his 50th game tonight, Scott Boland, Josh Hazlewood ... it's nice to be able to put (their inexperience) aside and still play so well.

"If you look at our World Cup side from last year, we've lost (Mitchell) Johnson and Watto (Shane Watson) who bowled 20 overs for us and did such a great job for us. Whether it was through the middle when they always found a wicket for us, or up top.

"We did a great job at the top (today), did an unbelievable job to keep them to 83 in the last 10 overs. That was outstanding and was probably the difference."

The performance of Australia's pace duo would have been particularly satisfying for skipper Steve Smith, who had criticised the opening spell in his side's loss to the Windies in St Kitts last week.

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With Starc rested from that match, Hazlewood opened the bowling with Nathan Coulter-Nile and the Windies blasted a first-wicket stand of 74 inside the first 10 overs.

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But on Wednesday, it was Australia's work in the middle overs that was below their expectations.

"With all respect to those two (Samuels and Ramdin) ... we just tried to cruise a little bit and wait for them to make a mistake instead of going hard at them and looking to make that fourth breakthrough," Maxwell said.

"We weren't quite as clinical as we were in that first eight or nine overs, where we were absolutely brilliant."

Starc and Hazlewood are sure the lead the attack again in the final on Monday morning (AEST), with the left-armer on the verge of a unique slice of history.

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The 26-year-old moved to 98 career wickets with his bag of three against the Windies, the most by any player after 50 matches, and is now just two short of breaking the record of Pakistan's Saqlain Mushtaq for the fastest player to 100 career wickets, which currently stands at 53 games. 

While Starc has been in and out of the side throughout the series as Australia carefully manage his return from foot and ankle surgery, Hazlewood has again proven himself to be a reliable source. 

The right-armer has bowled 41.4 overs in five innings during the series, the most of any quick in the tournament, and has the best economy rate (4.10) and the most maidens (six) of any fast bowler.

His miserly display in Barbados followed a record-breaking effort in Guyana against South Africa, when he finished with 2-20 from 10 overs including 47 dot balls, the most economical spell by an Australian opening bowler in more than a decade. 

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And while his fast-bowling partner has been forced to take a conservative approach in this series, Hazlewood has gladly played every match. 

"As a fast bowler, especially the way I bowl, I think I need rhythm all the time and need to be playing cricket continuously to get that rhythm and feel better with my bowling," he said last week.

"I think it's different for everyone but that's the way I feel, I need that continuous cricket to be at my best.

"I'm feeling good at the moment."

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