U19 World Cup semi hero has advised their final foes to get ready for some chin music in the hotly-anticipated decider
'We've scared teams’: Monster Truck’s warning for India
Amid the ecstasy of Australia winning through to their first Under-19 World Cup final in six years after their one-wicket win over Pakistan, there was a telling moment on their bus back from Benoni’s Willowmoore Park to their team hotel.
"Everyone was still so excited," player-of-the-semi-final Tom Straker told cricket.com.au. "Then we were like ‘we've had our fun, but it has to stop now’. We've still got a grand final to win.
"We had a quick conversation about it and just said, 'we didn't come here to win the semi-final, we came here to win the final'."
And the record-breaking fast bowler nicknamed 'Monster Truck' has warned India's dominant top order to expect a volley of bouncers in Sunday’s decider (7pm AEDT, Amazon Prime Video) and suggested they have "scared" other teams during their unbeaten run in the tournament.
Straker was the hero of Australia's tense triumph over Pakistan after snaring 6-24 – the best ever figures in the final four stage of the tournament, toppling champion speedster Kagiso Rabada’s 6-25 in 2014.
Not that the Sutherland Cricket Club product has been sidetracked by the extra attention.
"We had a TV in our viewing area and the commentators were talking about it, all the boys were loving it, but I was like 'it's a good to record to have' but I wasn't too fussed about it," said Straker. "It's a pretty proud moment, but in the scheme of things it doesn't really matter."
The 18-year-old's quiet pride at leading a strangling bowling effort nearly turned to agony as he and Mahli Beardman were dismissed within the space of four balls to leave last pair Raf MacMillan and Callum Vidler 16 to win.
"We're all just looking at each other like, 'oh no'," Starker said. "But Vidler's batting is not the worst for a No.11, so we had faith, and Raf's batted well for us, he's saved the day a before, so we were confident.
"We hit the winning runs and everyone just erupted."
Straker revealed coach Anthony Clark played a key role in those settling words on the bus trip home as the young players refocused themselves on their biggest challenge of the tournament so far.
India, winners of three of the previous six U19 World Cups, showed they are capable of winning from anywhere after recovering from 4-32 to chase hosts South Africa's 7-244 by just two wickets in the other semi.
Australia's fast bowling been their trump card in this campaign, with the trio that featured against Pakistan all having tremendous tournaments; Straker has 12 wickets at 9.25, Vidler's 12 victims have come at 10.75, while Beardman has seven scalps at 12.85.
It means the final could well be decided on how the Aussie pacey bowlers fare against India's fearsome batters.
A quick pitch at Benoni will only add to spectacle.
It is no secret how Straker and co. intend to approach the contest.
"We have a pretty good bowling attack. We've scared a few teams during this tournament and hopefully we do the same to India in the final," he said.
"The pitch here is a bit bouncy too. As you've seen throughout the tournament, we use our bouncers a lot so that will be part of our game plan.
"All the boys here, especially Mahli and Vidler, love a bumper … we're Australian fast bowlers, of course we love a bumper, so I'm sure there will be plenty of those."
Australia last won the U19 World Cup in 2010 when a Mitch Marsh-captained team were bowled to victory in the final by Josh Hazlewood.
Since then India have dominated the tournament, missing the decider only once over the ensuing six editions, a sign of cricket's most populous nation's vastly improved talent identification and development system.
The Aussies knew they would likely need to get through India to lift the trophy, with this match coming only months after their senior men's team pulled off their famous World Cup final upset over India in Ahmedabad.
"When the draw came out, we had a quick look at it and thought if everything goes to plan, hopefully we're in the final and we were always hoping it would be India in the final (as well)," said Straker.
"Obviously their batting has been a pretty big part of their success and so has our bowling so it should be a good match-up."
Straker also revealed his ‘Monster Truck’ moniker is only around a week old.
The squad’s coaches have compared each of the young speedsters to a different model of car - Charlie Anderson is a Tesla, Vidler the Ferrari, Beardman an Alfa Romeo.
“I’ve seen an ICC post about it and I’ve had a lot of people messaging me about it,” said Straker.
Australia will be hoping their Monster Truck can crush India too.
Australia take on India in the U19 World Cup final from 7pm AEDT Sunday, February 11. Watch live on Amazon Prime Video and follow the scores via the Cricket Australia Live app.