T20 World Cup: Australia team preview - Chasing a missing piece in its trophy cabinet

Ever since the inception of the tournament in 2007, Australia has reached the final only once, in 2010, but was beaten by England.

Deadly combination: Fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc form a perfect pace trio. On any given day, the three can rip the opponent apart.   -  Getty Images

Five World Cups, two Champions Trophy titles — Australia has been a force to reckon with in the ICC events. But the heavyweight side is still chasing a missing piece in its trophy cabinet — the T20 World Cup.

Ever since the inception of the tournament in 2007, Australia has reached the final only once, in 2010, but was beaten by England.

While it reached the semifinals in 2012, Australia failed to reach the knockout stages in the 2014 and 2016 editions.

So, this time around, the Aaron Finch-led side will be hoping to win the elusive title.

The Warner woes

It’s not going to be easy. Australia comes into the tournament after an embarrassing 1-4 defeat against Bangladesh, and the fact that its top batter David Warner is off-colour, will surely add to the team’s woes.

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Considered one of the game-changers, Warner was left out of the Sunrisers Hyderabad side for a large part of the Indian Premier League’s UAE leg — he played just a couple of games and looked unsettled.

Even then, the Australian team management is likely to continue with him as the opener, along with captain Finch. Before leaving for the UAE, Finch even indicated that they will not tweak the partnership, just yet.

The Warner-Finch pair has been one of the best opening combinations in the world, and if Warner can find his mojo early in the tournament, things could just be brighter for Australia.

While Glenn Maxwell’s presence in the middle-order gives the batting department the much-needed confidence, he can be effective with the ball as well.   -  AFP

 

The team certainly has an enviable batting line-up with Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis in its ranks.

Maxwell recently proved his worth for the Royal Challengers Bangalore with his red-hot form.

In the second half of the IPL, Maxwell played some remarkable shots — scoring 290 runs at average of 41.43 — and that’s certainly a promising sign ahead of the World Cup. If Maxwell can fire in the middle overs, most of Australia’s batting problems will be solved.

Ace in pace

Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood form a perfect pace trio. On any given day, the three can rip apart the opponent. It would be interesting to see how they handle the hot and humid conditions in the UAE, where fast bowlers could struggle. While Hazlewood has been pretty successful in his recent IPL stint with Chennai Super Kings, Starc and Cummins were not part of the tournament, so the first couple of games will be extremely important for them in terms of adjusting to the conditions.

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Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa are also in the squad. The seasoned Zampa could be effective in the UAE. However, the leg-spinner needs to be a consistent performer, because in the shorter format, there is very little scope for error.

The best thing about Australia is that it has depth in batting. Even when the Finch-Warner pair has struggled, there have been several instances of Smith or Mitchell Marsh stepping in and winning games.

Even though the T20 format is not quite tailor-made for Smith, he can play useful cameos in crunch situations. With Matthew Wade and Kane Richardson around, there is experience as well. However, all eyes will be on wicketkeeper Josh Inglis — who is set to feature in his first T20 World Cup.

Weakness: For Justin Langer’s team, things have not been quite rosy over the last few months. The defeat against Bangladesh has not only exposed the chinks in the armour, but also raised concerns over the middle-order. So, ahead of the T20 World Cup, Langer needs to get the combination right.

The squad
  • Aaron Finch (captain), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
  • Reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams

X-Factor: Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell has the ability to single-handedly win matches for his team and is in red-hot form. All eyes will be on the seasoned campaigner to fire. While Maxwell’s presence in the middle-order gives the batting department the much-needed confidence, he can be effective with the ball as well. In the past, captains have used him for breakthroughs and in the T20 World Cup, captain Finch would expect him to maintain his form.