Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff reprise left-arm double act to upstage England

The last time Australia opened the bowling with two left-arm quicks it was all about the Mitches. Australia were facing Sri Lanka in the 2015 World Cup, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson took two wickets apiece and Australia won by 64 runs. Four years later, on the other side of the world in another World Cup, Starc and Jason Behrendorff conjured some left-arm wizardry, took nine wickets between them and Australia won by 64 runs. Cricket is funny, sometimes.

Behrendorff is a very different bowler to Johnson but the decisions to select him and hand him the new ball proved to be masterstrokes against England. Bowling up the slope from the Nursery End and generating troublesome swing, Behrendorff took just two deliveries to strike the first blow for Australia, shattering the stumps of James Vince and evoking memories of Starc's wicket-taking fireworks against Brendon McCullum and New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup Final. Cricket is funny, sometimes.

Watch on Hotstar (India only): Highlights of Behrendorff's five-wicket haul

But it hasn't always been a barrel full of chuckles for Behrendorff. At 29 years of age, he has had a frustrating international career, a wealth of promise curtailed by a series of debilitating back injuries. Coming into this tournament he seemed to be down the pecking order, behind Nathan Coulter-Nile as the main contender for the third seamer role, or perhaps a back-up for Starc. Now his name will be etched on the honours board at the Home of Cricket; something that seemed far off during his many extensive rehabilitations.

"Some days, especially during all the rehab periods, you think, am I going to get back; am I going to be able to get out there and play for my country," said Behrendorff. "It's one of those things you dream of as a kid to play cricket for Australia; and then to come here and play at Lord's my first time here, I trained here the other day and my first game here, so yeah, it was something special.

"It's something I'll treasure for sure. It's something that you don't play cricket for, the accolades, but to play at Lord's and to take five today was really special."

It was Aaron Finch's call to open the bowling with Behrendorff rather than Pat Cummins and he was repaid handsomely, with the wicket of Jonny Bairstow following that of Vince. Behrendorff saw Finch's decision as an enormous vote of confidence.

"Yeah, it was huge," said Behrendorff. "That's where I guess one of my primary strengths lies, bowling up front, swinging with the new ball. So it was great to be given that opportunity to be able to get, as well, the wicket early doors. That was really important, as well, so I was happy with that."

Starc and Behrendorff made the most of Finch losing the toss and spent the first innings assessing the wicket and lengths England were bowling, particularly early on. Their observations paid dividends and the pair did the most important damage with the swinging new ball, bowling a fuller length and leaving England 4 for 53 and very much on the back foot.

"That's something we were assessing as they were bowling," said Behrendorff. "They didn't hit the stumps, or the balls were going to hit the stumps too often, so we made a conscious effort to try to pitch up and we hit the stumps as much as we could early doors.

"I think we executed that quite well on the whole, which was really positive, and we were able to get off to a excellent start with, I think it was maybe three wickets in the first ten overs, which is always really important.

"I guess as a bowling team, whenever you get off to a good start, you get your foot on the throat, and you don't want to let it off. It's something that we -- I think the best way to determine, like we really want to play aggressive cricket and set the tone up front. So it was really positive that we were able to do that and continue that throughout the innings."

The presence of Starc and Johnson in the same attack wasn't exactly a rarity but it still remains a talking point when two-left arm quicks take the field together. While the chances of that happening may well depend on particular match-ups, Behrendorff is naturally hopeful his performance against England will increase the likelihood of another day out with Starc.

"We don't often see it, but yeah, I don't see why we can't," said Behrendorff. "Sometimes you play three right-armers, so why can't we play two lefties? Mitch and I do different roles throughout the team, so it's really good that we could partner together.

"And then, yeah, second part of it, key match-up. That's something we thought was going to work well and I think Mitch and I picked up nine wickets between the two of us, so potentially worked quite well there."

Behrendorff has a polite and unassuming demeanour when he talks to the media, and Starc paints a similar picture of him in the dressing room.

"He's fairly quiet," said Starc. "But when he speaks it's all sense. He's come into the group really nicely. He hasn't played a heap of cricket for Australia but when he has he's bowled those good balls and come up with those good spells. He's continuing to learn and develop as a bowler and he's done a good job again today.

"He bowled us a fantastic starting over to get us along and start the tone. It was awesome. For someone in their second World Cup game, he bowled beautifully for his five today."

Australia are now assured of a semi-final berth and, should they face England again - something that is now far from guaranteed - Behrendorff said their two defeats of England - in the warm-up match and at Lord's - gave them enormous confidence they could be successful again, and take that success through to the final.

"It's huge," said Behrendorff. "Every game that we can win is massive. Especially in a tournament like this - they talk a lot about momentum, and that's something that's really important.

"So to continue winning, to continue playing good cricket, we're still trying to play a perfect game, but we're slowly getting better and better each time and today was another really good result for us."