Australia captain Michael Clarke warned his side were yet to play their perfect game in the World Cup, despite booking their spot in Sunday’s final with a 95-run victory over defending champions India.
Steven Smith clocked his first World Cup century yesterday, his 105 off just 93 balls propelling Australia to 328-7, with opener Aaron Finch – who will play for Yorkshire once again later this summer – kicking on to 81 after a slow start.
It meant India’s run-chase was under pressure from the start, and, barring captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s run-a-ball 65, Australia had a relatively easy route to the finish line and now have the chance for a fifth World Cup title when they face co-hosts New Zealand.
The Black Caps are the only unbeaten team of the tournament so far, having trumped Australia as well in the pool stages, but Clarke said: “We’re playing some really good cricket at the moment.
“Losing to New Zealand gave us that kick up the backside. I still don’t think we’ve played the perfect game yet. I think we’ve improved every game and now we’re excited to be in the final.
“I think the boys have played some outstanding cricket. Smithy was exceptional once again. He’s hitting the ball so sweetly, and I’m really proud of the execution under pressure there from our bowlers.”
Dhoni, meanwhile, feels his side can walk away with their heads held high after a World Cup that belied many pre-tournament expectations.
India came into the showpiece on the back of a disappointing tour of Australia, with no competitive wins to their name, but marched to the knockout phase by topping their pool and then easily beat Bangladesh.
“Overall, I’m quite happy,” said Dhoni. “Where we were at the start of the tournament, a lot of people didn’t think we’d get this far. At the same time, when you come to the knockout stages you have to lift your game.
“There were too many (runs) to chase. If you lose quite a few wickets and you’re supposed to chase over six runs an over... Our lower order, I don’t think they can contribute as much in these conditions.”
Dhoni was undecided when asked after the match whether this would be his last World Cup.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said. “I’m 33, I’m still running, I’m still fit. But I’ll have a think in a year’s time.”