ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Finch 'the best captain in this tournament so far'
Allan Border and Michael Vaughan say Australia have room to improve later in the tournament; Border calls for Steve Smith to bowl some overs of leg spin
13 June 2019, 02:21 PM AEST
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan has praised the tactical acumen of Aaron Finch after the Australian captain was rewarded for some bold gambles late in his side's tense win over Pakistan in Taunton.
Australia's victory margin of 41 runs looked comfortable enough, but in reality, the match was firmly in the balance heading into the final six overs of Pakistan's run chase.
With Pakistan needing 44 runs to win from 35 balls and three wickets in hand, Finch persisted with spearhead Mitchell Starc, who produced two pivotal breakthroughs in the 45th over to give Australia the upper hand.
The first of those was the dismissal of a rampant Wahab Riaz, who was given out caught behind after Finch reluctantly called for a review of the umpire's not out decision.
With just four frontline fast bowlers to choose from along with off-spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell, Finch was even forced to bowl two overs of spin himself during the innings, a move that produced the key wicket of Mohammad Hafeez, just the fourth of his ODI career.
"I have to say Aaron Finch, so far in this tournament, for me he has been the best captain tactically," Vaughan told the BBC.
"I think he maneuvered his team against the West Indies well to win that game. And just over the last hour (against Pakistan), when it started to get a little bit panicky for Australia, he maneuvered his bowling attack knowing that he had to get these overs of spin (in).
"He left one (over of spin) late because he wanted to go for the glory with (Pat) Cummins and Starc, and it paid off. That's what you have to do as a captain.
"It was his instinct to go for that review. I don't think he felt it was out, but right at the last minute he thought ‘you know what, we have to gamble, we have to try and get Wahab Riaz out'. He gambled on the review.
"He got a lot of things right in the field in terms of squeezing at the right time, putting the catches in at the right time and then spreading them out when a partnership started to develop. I thought he was outstanding as a captain."
With six overs remaining, Finch was unable to call on Cummins – whose 10th over was the 40th of the innings – while Starc had just two of his allotted 10 remaining.
It meant the less experienced duo of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson would have had to bowl three vital overs late in the innings, with Maxwell or even Finch himself required to bowl one as well.
Finch's tactical gambles were rewarded with a third win from four matches to leave the Australians in second spot on the table, with five more group matches to come before the semi-finals.
Both Vaughan and 1987 World Cup winning skipper Allan Border believe Finch's side has been well below their best so far in the tournament, but have scope to improve for the knockout stages.
"I can't see how they won't be in the semi-finals," Vaughan said.
"The good thing for Australia is they've won three out of four and I don't think they've clicked. And the other good thing is they've won two quite tight matches.
"Can they win the World Cup playing to the standard they played today? I don't think so.
"But do they have enough in the locker to improve and win when it really matters? Absolutely."
Border echoed Vaughan's sentiments, while he also called for Steve Smith to be given a chance with the ball later in the tournament.
"Australia aren't playing at their best, but they are winning matches," Border told the ICC. "They hung in there, rode out some pressure and came out with the victory.
"The bottom line is there's room for improvement from Justin Langer's team, and that's a good thing that will only worry every other side.
"Finch's low full-toss did the job in the end (by dismissing Hafeez), but I think they should look at Steve Smith having a bowl, I really do. Leg spin takes wickets and whether it's Adam Zampa coming back in or Smith trying a bit of his spin, that should improve the attack dramatically."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia beat Pakistan by 41 runs
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE