Magic Maxwell leading upturn in Aus fortunes ahead of NZ showdown: Finch

Dharamshala, Oct 27 (UNI) Former Australia captain Aaron Finch said someone who never has too many problems playing in an aggressive manner is Glenn Maxwell and his innings against the Netherlands ranks up there with his very best.

He said it was extraordinary, absolutely brutal at times, and to see it live was next level. Some of the shots he played were remarkable. It is hard enough batting right-handed, let alone playing those reverse shots left-handed against the quicks.

When Aiden Markram got a 49-ball hundred earlier in the competition, I didn’t think that would be beaten but Maxi obliterated it, Finch said.

He has a huge amount of natural talent with his hands, of course, but the amount of effort and time he puts in is unbelievable. You’ll see him practicing those reverse sweeps and switch-hits every training session against the spin but to incorporate that against quick bowlers as he does is so impressive, the former Australia captain said.

The timing of when to use that shot, getting the field placings where you want them, is sheer brilliance. Not many players in the world are as good as him on his day, he said.

“In my last column, I called for Australia to play more aggressively. Three wins on the spin and successive scores of more than 350 later, it is safe to say they have done just that,” Finch said.

They have shown more energy with bat and ball and when you do that, the fielding comes along for the ride, he said.

Finch said Adam Zampa is also having a fantastic competition and his game continues to go from strength to strength.

The variety of his deliveries has been outstanding and the best players in the world can’t get him away, which is a really good sign. He sets up those middle overs so well, Finch said.

As a character, Zamps has a different outlook on life to a lot of people, he’s very relaxed and he doesn’t take things too seriously. He stays calm but he is a very straight shooter at the same time. He’s a wonderful guy to have in your team and your squad, Finch said.

Australia now come into a tough run of games, starting with New Zealand in Dharamshala on Saturday, according to ICC media release.

New Zealand have been really consistent across the board so far, which you always expect from them, he said.

Their batting is functioning well and they have plenty of options even after Kane Williamson’s injury. That hasn’t unsettled them, which is the sign of a really strong squad, Finch said.

They weren’t a million miles away from India on Sunday and I don’t think that loss will affect them too much. They are a quality outfit who don’t give an inch and they are an incredibly hard team to beat, so I am expecting a close encounter on Saturday, he said.

Finch said Australia have the edge in the power game but their middle order hasn’t been functioning as well as they would like. They have been in some really dominant positions in this World Cup so far but they haven’t been able to capitalise on them as much as they might have done. That sounds silly after scores of 367 and 399 but both of those scores could have been bigger off the back of some big partnerships.

“That said, given the history of World Cup matches against New Zealand, I think Australia just have the edge,” he said.

The return of Travis Head, meanwhile, means a reshuffle is likely at the top of the order and it will be interesting to see how they go about it, Finch said.

He said Steve Smith’s record at number three is incredible, so Australia will be considering whether Mitchell Marsh goes to three or four.

“I expect Marnus Labuschagne to be the one who drops out, on the basis of ‘last man in, first man out’. Smith getting runs in the last game is a good sign for Australia and I think the only issue they would see is Mitchell Marsh starting against spin with four men out, as his ability to rotate the strike isn’t as good as some of the other guys in that middle order. I expect they’ll put him at three and task him with being really positive in that powerplay,” he said.

Finch said Marnus will feel hard done by, no question, but that’s the reality of tournament cricket. Travis Head has the ability to take the game away from teams in the powerplay and we’ve seen the importance of that in this competition.

“There is huge respect between these two teams and we have had some memorable World Cup battles over the years,” he said.

One of the more recent ones, the final in 2015, was an incredible experience. To play at the MCG for an occasion like that in front of 96,000 people was incredible and it couldn’t have been a better day, Finch said.

The memory that keeps coming back to me, and a lot of others, is Mitchell Starc’s first over to McCullum, knocking him over to set the tone for the game, he said.

Finch said to get a player like Brendon, who was on fire in that World Cup and destroying teams in the powerplay, was something else. It set up a brilliant day, one I will never forget.

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