Australia doesn’t want to take Ireland lightly. In fact, captain Aaron Finch believes that if the Gabba wicket ‘has got anything in it’, Ireland has some good bowlers to capitalise on that.
So, that makes it evident that when the two sides lock horns for a must-win T20 World Cup fixture on Monday, the defending champion will be wary of the giant-killer. Before its last game against Afghanistan was washed out earlier this week in Melbourne, Ireland had stunned England in a rain-curtailed outing, which helped the side maintain a marginally higher Net Run Rate (-1.169) than Australia’s -1.555.
And as the race for the semifinal spot intensifies, Australia needs to improve its NRR, but captain Finch accepts that the side firstly needs to put itself in a position from where it can push for glory.
On paper, Australia has a solid batting line-up, but the fact that David Warner has failed to get going so far, with just 16 runs in two innings, is a matter of concern. And against an Ireland bowling line-up, which has Josh Little, the Australian openers will have to be cautious.
Little had dismissed Jos Buttler and Alex Hales inside the PowerPlay during Ireland’s match against England, and the Australian team management admits his left-arm angle could be a challenge. Both Finch and Warner have struggled against left-arm pacers.
Australia’s batting department will rely on Marcus Stoinis, who guided the team to a win against Sri Lanka, Glenn Maxwell and Tim David, but it needs to be seen whether the team management decides to give Steve Smith a go. The seasoned Smith has struggled in T20s and during a training session on Sunday, he copped a blow to his right index finger. However, he brushed aside the pain and batted for quite a while, along with Warner.
Adam Zampa and Matthew Wade, who were down with COVID, have recovered and will be available for selection.
In its last five T20 outings, Ireland has won on three occasions and the famous win against England has certainly boosted the morale of the Andrew Balbirnie-led side. However, it needs to work on its fielding and middle-order.
The team dropped a couple of catches at crucial junctures against England and the team management has promised an improved performance. The batting department, once again, will be spearheaded by captain Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker. However, the side had lost its last nine wickets for 54 runs and against Australia, it must ensure that there’s no collapse in the middle-order.
The last time the two sides met in a T20 in 2012, Australia won by seven wickets.