It was only two months ago Australia couldn’t score a run against Bangladesh, and now they have to beat the Tigers to stay alive at the World Cup.
Australia averaged just 102 runs an innings in a miserable 4-1 series loss to Bangladesh in August, but captain Aaron Finch is adamant his team can find the runs needed in a “must-win” showdown with the Tigers at the T20 World Cup.
Mitch Marsh, who was controversially left out of Australia’s thrashing at the hands of England on Saturday night, and Matthew Wade are, however, the only two batsman from that T20 tour who have made it to the World Cup.
Finch had to leave for knee surgery, leaving Wade to skipper the side to totals of just 108, 121, 117, 105 and finally an ugly 62 in a series played on what spinner Adam Zampa called “the worst” international pitches he has played on in Dhaka.
But through three games at the World Cup the return of Australia’s best batters hasn’t produced the big scores necessary to promote confidence of progression to the finals.
Through the opening three matches Australia just reeled in South Africa’s sub-par 119 in the opening match, then peeled off 155 in just 17 overs to beat Sri Lanka in the second before struggling to just 125 against England.
That record gives Finch’s men just one total in the top 35 at the tournament so far.
Bangladesh has five, two against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, Australia’ final opponent in the pool games. Three other big scores from the Tigers came against countries including Oman in the qualifying stages.
But Finch said there was no issues about the players “gelling”, having only come together as a team 10 days before the tournament after six months apart, and was confident their best was not far off.
“Well, it wasn’t too long ago that we were No. 1 in the world, so I still think that we’re a very good team in T20 international cricket,” he said.
“Everyone has got their own opinion, so that doesn’t really matter. What matters is results. That’s fine if you think that we’re a really ordinary side, that’s OK.
“I think we’ve got a couple of days off to refresh and recharge. The boys have been training really well and deserve a couple of days off … so recharge the batteries and then a couple of really strong days of training, and then we’ll be back into it.
“There’s a lot of experience in the group. I’m not concerned about carrying baggage into a different game against a totally different opposition.”
Australian legend Shane Warne declared that Marsh “has to play” in the next match and Steve Smith should go because he has never “nailed T20”.
“Having the player that everyone can bat around has gone – those days of T20 are gone with the big bats and the small boundaries,” Warne told Fox Sports.
“You’ve got to start bashing it. You just have to bash it and go into beast mode.”
Australia has to beat both Bangladesh and the West Indies to make the semi-finals of the tournament, a fact not lost on Finch given the impact of the loss to England.
“Oh, they’re definitely must-wins. I think the net run rate took a hammering tonight. Yeah, so we’re going to have to be at our best again,” he said.
“Bangladesh are a very, very good side and so are the West Indies, a lot of firepower in their team, a lot of experience, so yeah, absolutely. It‘s must-win from now on, but we’re looking forward to it.”