Ricky Ponting, the most successful captain in World Cup history, says Aaron Finch is unquestionably the man to captain Australia at this year's event.
Finch put aside an indifferent individual campaign with the bat and defeats in the first two games of the five-match series to lead Australia to a stirring triumph over the world's second-best ODI outfit India on Wednesday,
The impending returns of fellow opener David Warner and former skipper Steve Smith, coupled with the stellar recent returns of top-order players Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb as well as new boy Ashton Turner, has ratcheted up competition for batting spots ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
But Ponting insists there should be no doubt over the place of Finch, who struck a vital 93 in the do-or-die third ODI to break up scores of 0, 37, 0 and 27 against India, and suggested his rough run of form may even have been well-timed.
"He's been Australia's best performed one-day batsman in the last couple of seasons. He's made more hundreds than anybody else," Ponting told cricket.com.au during an in-depth interview last Friday, ahead of the third ODI.
"Although he's recently gone through a real tough time, if he can get through the other side of that before the World Cup, it could be - as hard as it sounds on him - it almost could be perfect timing.
"He’d rather be going through that now than going through that at the start of the World Cup and having your captain completely out of form going through an entire World Cup.
"His captaincy, from what I’ve seen in the last few months even though he hasn't been batting that well, has looked really sharp and he’s going to have a great squad of players.
"He’s the man, for me, to captain Australia throughout hopefully a successful World Cup campaign."
It's been a testing, eventful and occasionally successful summer for Finch.
Over the course of just over five months, he made his Test debut, lost his Test spot, led Australia to ODI and T20 series wins in India, suffered two series defeats at home and captained the Melbourne Renegades to their first KFC BBL title.
Despite the rollercoaster, during which Finch has switched formats on eight separate occasions, his teammates in India have praised him for his composure, as has coach Justin Langer.
While his 93 in Ranchi was his first score of 50 or more in 12 ODIs, Finch's 11 ODI hundreds (the most of any current Australian aside from Smith and Warner) will not have escaped the memories of national selectors.
Both Ponting, and Finch himself, have stressed the need to keep a balanced mental state in the face of both adversity and success.
"I think it's important to remain level regardless of how you're going, whether you're flying or you're where I am at the moment and not getting as many runs as you would have liked," Finch said recently.
"As captain of the side, it's important to make sure you're leading the side as consistently as you can. As soon as you're up and down then the team starts to sense that and starts to almost play like that – you start to play on emotion.
"One of the things Australian cricket has been so good at for some years is that you play the opposition on skill, not emotion."
Ponting, who won three World Cups including two as captain, commended Finch's tactical nous.
"Tactically what I’ve seen, he’s looked sharp," he said.
"It’s always a challenge (for) the captain, if you're not going well yourself, to not let anybody know that it's affecting you.
"It always affects you as a player when you're having a bad trot, but the best leaders that I’ve ever seen have been the guys that haven't got too high when they’ve been going too well, and haven't got too low when they've been going poorly.
"They're pretty neutral sort of people, have been the best leaders in business or sports that I’ve seen and that'll be something that Finchy probably does have to learn a little bit about. I'm sure he's learning a lot about himself every day.
"But I'm also pretty aware that he will know that he's got all of his mates behind him, wanting him to do really well and wanting him to start making big runs again at the top of the order."
Australia's World Cup fixtures
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE