MELBOURNE, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Aaron Finch returned to form with a timely half-century but ended under an injury cloud as Australia eased to a 42-run win over Ireland in the T20 World Cup on Monday to keep their semifinal hopes alive. alive
Captain Finch’s 63 off 44 balls helped the champions post an imposing total of 179 for five at the Gabba in Brisbane before Mitchell Starc-led Australian bowlers terrorized Ireland’s top order on Halloween.
Australia move to second in Group 1 behind leaders New Zealand, who have a game in hand, but the hosts missed a golden opportunity to lift their net run-rate above England , third place, after reducing Ireland to 25 for five earlier.
A brave, unbeaten 71 from Lorcan Tucker brought Ireland back to 137 before they were bowled out after 18.1 overs.
Tucker was dropped on 35 by Pat Cummins, leaving the Starc bowler fuming.
“We didn’t get him in the right area enough (to Tucker),” Starc said.
“We’ll take that catch and we’ll be sitting there talking about how we’re going to get back into net run-rate or whatever.”
However, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals, the pressure is on Jos Buttler’s England to beat unbeaten New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.
Australia have other injury concerns apart from Finch, who has spent most of Ireland’s hunt on the sidelines.
Number six batsman Tim David was also spared fielding duties with hamstring pain.
All-rounder Marcus Stoinis was on and off the field despite scoring 35 and taking a wicket during his bowling spell.
Finch said he hopes to be fit for Australia’s final Super 12 clash against Afghanistan in Adelaide on Friday, but the skipper has a history of hamstring problems.
“This doesn’t feel too bad at the moment, but generally during the night they can stiffen,” said the burly opener.
Fitness concerns the sour victory for the hosts in front of a crowd loaded with fans in Halloween costumes.
After a slow and awkward 31 not out in the win over Sri Lanka in Perth, Finch started tensely with the bat but grew in confidence in partnerships with Mitchell Marsh (28) and Stoinis.
He brought up his fifty with a six during a horror spell for Irish all-rounder Mark Adair, who bowled five wides and conceded 26 runs before finishing with ugly figures of 0-59.
Ireland’s Barry McCarthy had a better night with 3-29 and jumped over the rope for a spectacular catch that denied Stoinis a six and saved Adair four runs when he tossed the ball backwards before landing.
Left-armer Starc was not called into action until the fourth over of Ireland’s chase, but he made an immediate impact, bowling Curtis Campher and George Dockrell for ducks in pulsating pace and swing.
That reduced Ireland to 25 for five, but it was to be the pinnacle for Starc and Australia as Tucker dragged them into a grind that could ultimately prove costly if run-rates are decisive.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Edited by Christian Radnedge
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