Astonishing form that puts Finch on top of the world
HE may only sit fifth on the International Cricket Council's Twenty20 batting rankings, but right now Aaron Finch is the form T20I batsman in the world.
Finch broke his own record for the highest score in a T20I on Tuesday, scoring 172 runs off 76 balls. Five years earlier he had set the T20I benchmark of 156 against England at Southampton.
It was the Victorian's third straight half-century in T20I cricket and it took his average in the format in 2018 to a remarkable 199.00. That's 107.00 runs better than the next best average in this period, which belongs to India's Manish Pandey (276 runs at 92.00),
Finch sits third for T20I runs scored this year (398 at 199.00 across six innings), just behind New Zealand's Martin Guptill (410 at 41.00 across 10 innings) and India's Shikhar Dhawan (415 at 46.11 across nine innings) who have both played more matches this year.
While he has benefited from finishing not out in four of his six innings, he can hardly be accused of batting for his average. The Australian has a strike rate of 218.68 this year, which is the best of any batsman who has batted more than once.
He'll be hoping to bottle that form for 2020 when Australia hosts the World Twenty20 for the first time.
While Finch found the going easy, D'Arcy Short struggled to get going.
The left-hander only managed 46 runs off the 42 balls he faced, as he was tied down by Zimbabwe's spinners. It's not the first time Short has had his troubles against spin either. After topping the run scoring in the Big Bash League (572 at 57.20), he scored only 115 runs at 16.42 across seven innings in the Indian Premier League. His run-rate dropped from 148.57 in BBL 07 to 116.16 in India.
However, Finch is confident Short is on the right track in T20I cricket.
"That kind of innings, on a wicket like that, it's going to help him a lot down the track," Finch said between innings on Tuesday. "Towards the end of the tournament when the wickets start to get slower and bit lower, that type of innings from D'Arcy will really help him."
Billy Stanlake put on a clinic in Australia's tri-series campaign opener on Monday, taking 4-8 off his four overs against the world's best T20I team, Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Stanlake copped some stick from the country sitting 12th on the ICC T20I rankings. In his first over the quick leaked three wides, and things got worse from there with the quick getting hit for two sixes and three fours.
By the end of the match he had figures of 1-39 off three overs. It was far from a disaster, particularly with Australia defending a total of 229, but it was a reminder that at Stanlake will have the occasional rough day.
Finch came within four runs of eclipsing Chris Gayle for the highest score in a Twenty20.
Back in 2013, Chris Gayle hit an unbeaten 175 for Royal Challengers Bangalore against the Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League. It was a performance Finch had to suffer through as one of Pune's players - he even leaked 28 runs to Gayle in the one over he bowled.
He looked set to surpass Gayle's 175 at Harare only to fall to one of cricket's rarest dismissals. On strike on 172 with two balls to go in the innings, Finch slipped over trying to reach a wide from Blessing Muzarabani and kicked his own stumps over.
It is only the 11th time a batsman has gotten out hit wicket in a T20I and it is the first time it has happened to an Australian.