The Australians can't be in a better frame of mind before the Champions Trophy, the only world-level regular fixture, which they have failed to win despite repeated attempts.
Like India, they treated the Malaysian series as an appetizer before the main course (The Champions Trophy), but unlike them, they had their fair share of success in getting the better of both their foes to win the DLF Cup.
India mostly fiddled with batting positions while the Australians experimented with rotation, and what a success their rotation policy turned out to be! The players on rotation not only looked sharp and eager, but also chipped in with some good match winning performances.
Unlike players in other teams, the Aussies did not need much time to settle down. Even Hayden, making his comeback after one year, hit form with a polished 49 in their match against the West Indies to steady the Australian innings, and had a half-century in the next one against India.
Australian players' performances
(After missing at least a match in DLF tri-series)
|79||Watson||2nd v Ind|
|49||Hayden||3rd v WI|
|3-43||Lee||3rd v WI|
|2-48||Hogg||4th v Ind|
Unlike other teams, the likes of Hogg and Bracken showed that missing a match or two never blunted their attacking skills. Lee came back in style after missing the first two matches to become the man-of-the-series for an exceptional haul of 12 wickets for an average less then 10!
Not surprising that Ricky Ponting calls him the best one-day bowler in the world for his sheer pace and accuracy. It took Lee just one ball to impose the Australian authority on the match. The unplayable first-ball Yorker to Gayle was not just a wicket, but major psychological blow to the rest of the West Indies batting line-up, which crumbled in a heap.
If the Australian batting looked suspect at times, their bowling took care of any resistance from the opposition. Despite defending modest totals of 213 and 240 in their final two matches, it would have been tragic had Australia lost the match.
If we calculate some of the biggest collapses in the series, involving at least two top and middle order batsmen, the West Indies were on the receiving end in four of them. And in one match against India, they were never tested.
Biggest collapses in the series
(Involving at least two top-order batsmen)
On the other hand, the Australians engineered four of these collapses, including the one against India, which saw the Dinesh Mongia-led resistance coming a cropper in the end.
So Australian bowlers as well as out-of-form or out-of-favour batsmen grabbed their chances. And in style. That is what makes them a team to beat, if not invincibles.
Their experimentation with rotation turned out to be a big success, as against India's fiddling with positions. This is something, which may help them immensely in the forthcoming Champions Trophy.
The only issue for the yellow shirts will be how to handle their riches, which include the likes of prodigious Johnson! But the bad news for the rest of the world is, the World Champions are very good at it!