Australia captain Michael Clarke warned his side were yet to play their perfect game in the World Cup, despite booking their spot in Sunday’s final with a 95-run victory over defending champions India.
Steven Smith clocked his first World Cup century on Thursday, his 105 off just 93 balls propelling Australia to 328 for seven, with opener Aaron Finch - of Yorkshire - kicking on to 81 after a slow start.
It meant India’s run-chase was under pressure from the start, and, barring skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s run-a-ball 65, Australia had a relatively easy route to the finish line and now have the chance for a fifth World Cup title when they face co-hosts New Zealand.
The Black Caps are the only unbeaten team of the tournament so far, having trumped Australia as well in the pool stages, but Clarke said on Sky Sports World Cup: “We’re playing some really good cricket at the moment.
“Losing to New Zealand gave us that kick up the backside. I still don’t think we’ve played the perfect game yet. I think we’ve improved every game and now we’re excited to be in the final.
“I think the boys have played some outstanding cricket. Smithy was exceptional once again. He’s hitting the ball so sweetly, and I’m really proud of the execution under pressure there from our bowlers.”
Smith’s century comes in a tournament that has already seen him make scores of 95, 72 and 65, and the stand-in Test captain hopes there is plenty left in the bag for Sunday.
“Another big hundred would be nice,” he said. “It’s nice to contribute to a few wins. It was a pretty big stage, the semi-final of a World Cup. I’m just happy that we got over the line in the end.”
Dhoni, meanwhile, feels his side can walk away with their heads held high after a World Cup that belied many pre-tournament expectations.
India came into the showpiece on the back of a disappointing tour of Australia, with no competitive wins to their name.
, but marched to the knockout phase by topping their pool and then easily beat Bangladesh.
“Overall, I’m quite happy,” Dhoni said. “Where we were at the start of the tournament, a lot of people didn’t think we’d get this far.
“At the same time, when you come to the knockout stages you have to lift your game.
“There were too many (runs) to chase. If you lose quite a few wickets and you’re supposed to chase over six runs an over... Our lower order, I don’t think they can contribute as much in these conditions.
“Overall, it’s good exposure for them. Maybe next time, in other conditions, they’ll know how to bat and do better.”
Dhoni was undecided when asked after the match whether this would be his last World Cup.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said. “I’m 33, I’m still running, I’m still fit.
“But I’ll have a (think in a) year’s time. Maybe next year during the T20 World Cup I would like to decide if I can continue until the 2019 World Cup or not.”