Melbourne: Aaron Finch returned to form with a timely half-century but finished under an injury cloud as Australia eased to a 42-run win over Ireland at the T20 World Cup on Monday to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Captain Finch’s 63 off 44 balls helped the champions to an imposing total of 179 for five at the Gabba before Australia’s bowlers led by Mitchell Starc terrorised Ireland’s top order on Halloween.
Australia move to second in Group 1 behind leading New Zealand, who have a game in hand.
With the top two teams advancing to the semi-finals, Australia’s big win lifted their net run-rate just shy of England’s, putting pressure on Jos Buttler’s side to beat New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.
After a slow and awkward 31 not out against Sri Lanka in Perth, Finch started tensely with the bat but grew in confidence in partnerships with Mitchell Marsh (28) and Marcus Stoinis (35).
The stocky opener struggled with his running later in the innings, though, and left the field early with a hamstring strain during Ireland’s chase.
“A little hammy twinge, I think, so we’ll get a scan tomorrow. Unfortunately I’ve had a history of them so we’ll see how it goes,” said Finch, named man-of-the-match.
“That doesn’t feel too bad at the moment but generally overnight they can stiffen up.”
It put a sour note on a clinical performance by the hosts in front of a crowd laden with fans dressed in Halloween costumes.
After spin bowling all-rounder Glenn Maxwell took two quick wickets, Starc bowled Curtis Campher and George Dockrell in a thrilling burst of fast bowling as Ireland crashed to 25 for five at the end of the fourth over.
Ireland number three Lorcan Tucker batted on and finished with a brave, unbeaten 71 but had little support from his team mates as the Irish were bowled out for 137 after 18.1 overs.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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