Pat Cummins admitted relief as Pakistan mounted a brave rearguard effort to nearly pull off an improbable victory at Taunton. After they were set 308 to win, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side scored steadily but Australia held their nerve to keep picking off batsmen. An eighth-wicket stand between Sarfaraz and Wahab Riaz, who scored 45 from just 39 balls, made it nervy for the defending champions until the last three wickets fell for just two runs – securing a third victory at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. “It goes to show that everyone can bat these days,” said Cummins, who took his tournament tally to nine wickets with figures of 3/33.
“It was a bit closer than we would have liked, so it was good to get those couple of wickets and finish it off. We gave them a bit too much width and suddenly they were back in the game, it’s a good lesson to learn.”
Cummins and strike partner Mitchell Starc have 18 wickets between them in the tournament while the rest of the team have a combined 12, underlining the importance of the top-line attack to captain Aaron Finch. Cummins is ranked the number one Test bowler in the world and number six in ODIs, statistics he underlined with a wicket in his second over and later the key scalp of big-hitting opener Imam ul-Haq for 53. Pakistan lost three top order wickets in just 15 balls, Finch removing the dangerous Mohammad Hafeez when he fired a full toss straight a fielder on the boundary and Cummins dismissing Shoaib Malik caught behind.
But it was the dot balls - not the wickets - that secretly pleased Australia’s vice-captain. It’s a nerdy stat for bowlers - and no-one currently has a better record at the tournament. “That’s the big improvement in my game in the last couple of years, the ability to hold a length and make it difficult to get runs,” added Cummins.
“If you give away easy singles then 300 becomes quite an achievable score. Cutting out the singles is huge, it means if you give away a boundary it might not be that big over of ten or 11, it may just be a five or a six.
“This was as good a bowling wicket as you’ll get. If you didn’t bowl well then you’d get smashed but if you put it in the right places you were always in the game.”
Cummins is increasingly looking like the workhorse of this Australian team, plugging away with the wickets while others hog the headlines. Against Pakistan it was David Warner, whose man of the match winning innings of 107 was something special. “We were so pumped for him, he was really open and honest after the Oval game,” added Cummins.
“He was playing more timid than normal but we saw his mindset change from the start here.
“I think if you look over the transition of his career, he’s become more measured in his approach. He’s energy out in the middle is still an example, the way you see him sprinting hard for singles and bouncing down the wicket. He looks really sharp in this tournament, which is great for us.”