Cairns: Australia and New Zealand are sweating on the form of their captains heading into the Twenty20 World Cup with both Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson under par with the bat in recent matches.
Although the Australians took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the one-day series the neighbours are contesting in Cairns on Thursday, their skipper issue looks to be more pronounced.
Finch made a second ball duck in the 113-run victory, the fifth time out of 13 one-day innings this year that he has failed to score a run.
With Australia’s T20 World Cup title defence getting under way against the Blacks Caps in Sydney on October 22, a run drought for one of their opening batters must be a concern for the tournament hosts.
Spinner Adam Zampa, who took a maiden ODI five-wicket haul in Thursday’s victory, said there were mitigating factors.
“It’s tough (but) we’re backing him to get through it,” he told reporters.
“Obviously, we have the bigger goal in mind and that’s to win trophies. We’re all kind of working through different things to make sure we’re at our best for the World Cup.
“The conditions here have been particularly tough going for the top order… it was really hard to score. I don’t think to single Finchy out at the moment is quite fair.” Despite his lack of runs, Finch took three catches and played his captaincy role with aplomb on Thursday as the home side successfully defended a tally of 196.
“There’s never been any doubts about Finchy’s leadership,” Zampa added. “He’s really calm out there and his decision-making has been excellent.”
New Zealand will be less concerned about captain Williamson, even if he is perhaps more important to their batting efforts.
Batting at No 3, Williamson scratched out 17 runs from 58 deliveries before being trapped lbw by a Zampa full toss.
The top order batsman has struggled to recapture the dominant form he displayed before an elbow injury forced him to take a prolonged break from the game last year.
“I think everyone remembers immediately pre his elbow injury when he was in the richest vein of form that perhaps some players have ever been in,” said coach Gary Stead.
“Look, Kane is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen on his game, and he continues to be, I’m sure for him, there’s a big score that’s just around the corner.”