John Buchanan wasn’t at the Gabba on Tuesday when England defeated New Zealand in a T20 World Cup Super-12 fixture.
But watching the game on television at his home - not far away from the iconic venue - the veteran coach noticed every detail of the game quite minutely, just like he would’ve possibly done in his coaching days with the Australian team.
Group 1 is still wide open with Australia and England in the race for a semifinal spot, with this eventually going down to the last of the group league matches.
“It’s a pretty interesting stage of the tournament, particularly after last night’s result. Australia was wanting New Zealand to win, and that wouldn’t have necessarily guaranteed them being in, but they could have given a much better shot,” Buchanan tells Sportstar on Wednesday afternoon at a cafe on the outskirts of Brisbane.
“Now, we are down to the last games and England obviously has got a tougher draw because they are playing Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has a long shot to make the semifinals, but if they upset England and things go their way, they can still get in…”
Buchanan believes that Australia has done fairly well so far in the tournament despite its defeat against New Zealand in the opening fixture. However, the coach, who guided Australia to two World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007, believes that the Aaron Finch-led team should have ideally looked at improving the Net Run Rate against Ireland.
“Against Ireland, they probably had a chance to win by 70 runs, which would have helped the NRR again, but in the end, they ended up winning by 20 or 30 runs. It was a little bit disappointing from their point of view for having not been able to finish that innings off…”
For Buchanan, another disappointment is the indifferent form of David Warner. “They are really looking at Warner to anchor their innings, which then, possibly the likes of Marsh, Maxwell, David, Stoinis take in, far more than they have been. Batting lacks consistency at the moment, but that’s based on the fact that Warner hasn’t been on top of the innings, and Finch isn’t necessarily the Finch of old. Having said that, they are still finding ways to win. They still have a good chance for semifinal…”
What’s going wrong for Warner?
“He is obviously a good T20 player, I think it is only a temporary phase. But in this tournament, you have only got five innings, leading into the semifinals, and he has already played four of those. I suppose it’s a bit the same for Rohit Sharma as well,” Buchanan says.
The India captain has struggled so far in the tournament. Even though he scored a half-century against the Netherlands, Rohit failed to make an impact before or after that.
“He is the key player for India. He and (KL) Rahul are the best opening combination at this level, and they probably haven’t fired together the way they would have wanted to play,” Buchanan says.
“Obviously, a lot more onus on (Virat) Kohli and (Suryakumar) Yadav to take the innings forward. The tournament hasn’t seen too many consistently high scores, which probably suggests that opening combinations for most teams have not got the start they would have wanted, apart from the New Zealand-Australia game…”
While Buchanan expects both Rohit and Warner to strike form ahead of the semifinals, he suggests that the two should go back to their basics. “I don’t think the captaincy is an issue for him. He is an experienced player, he has captained teams successfully before, so I am not sure if that’s an issue for him. It’s basically him finding his touch,” the seasoned coach says.
“He needs to adjust and go back to whatever his basics are - technically, physically and mentally - and put those into play for the next game. That’s all good players need to do; they need to make sure, “yeah, that’s right. That’s what I need to do…” And that’s the way to go…”
Having seen the teams put up a tough challenge, Buchanan has pinned his hopes on New Zealand and believes that the side has all the firepower to make the final. “New Zealand will find their way into the final, they have a very good understanding of their game. They played some of those big games in recent times and they know how to get there…” Buchanan says.
“Semifinals will be interesting to see where the teams finish in their pools. Whether or not India can avoid New Zealand in the semifinals, if they can, then I think India might be in the finals. We are probably down to six teams total and that will become four and that’s still a hard enough pick…”
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