Starc's four dismantles Scotland
Rain kept Australia nervous during a two-hour delay, more nervous than Scotland who's innings lasted only half an hour longer
Australia 133 for 3 (Clarke 47) beat Scotland 130 (Machan 40, Starc 4-14, Cummins 3-42) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The camera panned to the Australian dressing room. The sky was gloomy, the rain was getting heavier and the covers were on for two hours in Hobart. Steven Smith and Shane Watson looked nervous. More than they had been for the two and a half hours and 25.4 overs that Scotland batted.
They had no cause to worry. The wind that buffeted Nick Knight's suit at the toss on a chilly day remained to ward off the bad weather and provide a clear passage for Australia's World Cup march by ensuring that they avoided a quarter-final bout with South Africa.
James Faulkner, as per his finisher contract, was on hand to seal a 131 chase with a six: just the thing to steel Australia's resolve.
Forcing a quick and favourable result before the rain that had hung around played gate-crasher meant that Michael Clarke opted to bowl in the final Group A game. The first halt in play lasted half-an-hour, but by then Australia had dismissed eight batsmen for 130.
Two Mitchell Starc yorkers were enough to wrap up the innings after resumption, taking him to 4 for 14 from 4.4 overs and made him the most successful bowler of the World Cup - 16 wickets at an average of 8.5, strike rate of 13.8 and economy of 3.67.
A bouncer whistled over leg: Kyle Coetzer ducked for cover. A teaser outside off: Coetzer was left groping. A leg-stump seeking missile of a yorker to follow: Coetzer had both feet in the air, his weight on his bat and somehow punched the ball back to the bowler.
Those were Starc and Australia's first three balls in Hobart and a tone was set. Scotland were overwhelmed and bowled out an hour before the scheduled innings break.
The wickets were a blur, perhaps as much as the ball may have been delivered by probably the fastest set of bowlers in the World Cup. There was a lot of backing away and a lot of shots being attempted. It was all a bit haphazard, almost as if Scotland were determined to attack no matter what. A healthy attitude, except when it leaves you at 51 for 5, someone should have said enough and gone on to plan B.
Coetzer, already roughed up, forgof about his footwork when he nicked Starc off. A Shane Watson short ball rarely frightens, but when it climbs towards your nose the hook shot was not on. Preston Mommsen went for it anyway and the top edge was caught at short fine leg. Freddie Coleman became a victim of the Mitchell Johnson one-two. Two bouncers were seen off, but the one slid across caught the edge for Clarke at second slip. Three top-order batsmen, three ungainly dismissals, three ducks.
Calum MacLeod and Matt Machan were the only members of the top seven to reach double-figures. Both players were eager to play their strokes - MacLeod cracked four poor deliveries to the off side boundary with authority. A back-foot drill from Machan in the fifth over brought a 'well played' shrug from Starc and he topped that with a well-timed straight drive off Watson in the 10th. Enough indications of Scotland's potential, but their shot selection let them down - MacLeod slapped Starc's poorest ball - short and wide delivery - to point. Richie Berrington popped Glenn Maxwell's first delivery - a wide half-volley - into covers hands.
Machan made a decent 40 off 35 balls. Josh Davey, once the top-wicket taker in the tournament, teased with some crisp strokes - an eye-catching swipe over long-on as he used his feet to Maxwell and an extra cover drive where he brandished the high-elbow at the photographers off Faulkner. Michael Leask struck a hat-trick of boundaries against Watson.
But it was the defensive techniques that let Scotland down. The left-armers' angles had most batsmen lead-footed. Pat Cummins did not look his best but had three wickets to show.
Australia's batsmen, though, had nothing tying them down. Clarke opened the batting for the first time in nearly six years and produced a breezy 47 - a marked positive since historically the team feels more menacing with their leader in form. Scotland's medley of medium-pacers got the new ball to dart past his outside edge but when the swing faded away, Clarke found his timing. It took a stunning one-handed catch on the square leg boundary from Leask to deny the Australia captain a fifty.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo