Turning point for us was the loss to India, says Starc
London: Australia are enjoying a five-match winning streak at the World Cup and pace spearhead Mitchell Starc feels the loss to India in their third tie was the turning point in the reigning champions' impressive run in to the semifinals.
Australia, who are the only team to have qualified for the semifinals, have won seven of their eight games. They crushed trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand by 86 runs on Saturday to consolidate their position at the top of the points table.
"Since the India game, we've taken wickets through the middle fairly regularly, and whether it's attacking more or I think the biggest part was the execution," Starc said after the victory against New Zealand.
Australia's only loss in the World Cup has come at the hands of India, who defeated the five-time champions by 36 runs and Starc believes that loss marked the improvement in their game.
"We were all probably a little bit off in that Indian game. I think the turning point was probably that Indian game where we had a good chat as a bowling group and a batting group and we've just continued to improve as a whole group of players from that game."
Talking about the win against New Zealand, the 29-year-old left-arm pacer said the best is yet to come for Australia.
"We've always spoken about peaking towards the back end of the tournament, and we're still searching for that perfect performance," Starc said.
"We're not quite there yet. We're showing glimpses of what we are capable of with the ball and with the bat and in the field, but we have still got room to improve, and that's exciting for this group.
"We've got to play our best game in the semi now and hopefully better that in the final, and that's what tournament play is all about," he added.
Starc's 5 for 26 against New Zealand was a record-breaking third career World Cup five-wicket haul. Just five players are now ahead of his haul of 46 World Cup wickets, with none coming close to the mesmeric 12.97 average he boasts with the ball.
But the 2015 Player of the Tournament said it's wins, more than personal records, that motivates him having lifted the trophy four years ago.
"Records don't mean much if we don't win the World Cup. I'm just stoked to be playing a part in this group and continue to contribute," he said.
Starc credited captain Aaron Finch for providing the team with the calmness even when things aren't going in their favour.
"A big part of our victories is our calmness and I think that's probably led by Finchie (Aaron Finch). He's been fantastic as a captain. I think there's a real sense of calmness around the whole group, not just from the bowlers but from Finchie to all the fielders.
"Even when things are not quite happening for us, it's still very calm. We still know what we want to do. It goes back to the execution. It's that clearness as a whole group out on the field is what's probably instilling that confidence in the bowler to execute what they want to do," Starc said.