T20 World Cup: Australia will have to overcome their mental hurdle

The Australians were demolished by England in their previous match. — AP
The Australians were demolished by England in their previous match. — AP

Mumbai - Aaron Finch's side take on beleaguered Bangladesh in Dubai

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Wed 3 Nov 2021, 11:26 PM

Demolished by England in their previous match, Australia are precariously placed in the tournament. Another defeat could well mean ouster. If there is some relief from the growing tension over the days since the defeat to the arch-rivals, it comes from the fact that tonight’s match is against beleaguered Bangladesh who have looked out of sorts right through, having lost four matches on the trot.

That said, the Aussies can’t ignore the vicissitudes of T20 cricket where upheavals and topsy-turvy results occur more frequently than in other formats. Bangladesh can’t reach the semifinals, but now under no burden of expectation and nothing more to lose, could play with the freedom that has escaped them yet. The pressure will be entirely on Australia.

How and why Aaron Finch and his array of stellar players should be in such a desperate situation will be a matter of consternation for Aussie supporters. In terms of talent resources and experience, the team lacks nothing. After a hard-fought opening match win over South Africa, Sri Lanka were overwhelmed in emphatic fashion to make it two wins out of two, and everything appeared hunky dory.

More so because David Warner, who had had a poor IPL season, smacked a compelling half century suggesting a return to form. Though dropped very early in his innings, Warner showed vintage touch, pummeling the Lankan bowlers into submission. This was just the fillip the team needed it appeared, and that the Aussies would be difficult to stop from here.

In the circumstances, the slump against England came as a surprise. Australia’s batsmen were throttled by England’s bowlers, barely able to get the ball off the square, and finishing with a meagre total. England’s batsmen then went on to show that the cause of the batting shambles was not the pitch, but the fearful mindset of the Aussies, scoring at more than 10 runs per over to clinch the match in a cakewalk.

What impact did that mauling have on the Australia team is the crux question. Have they recovered sufficiently to take up the challenge of winning matches, and handsomely at that, from here?

As it has been for most teams, barring England and Pakistan, the problem is located in the batsmen not performing to potential on the sluggish pitches in the UAE, which require different batting skills and temperament than just going slam bang. With a top order reading Finch, Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, this shouldn’t really have been a problem.

The Australian team has run into a mental hurdle of their own making which has to be overcome if they are to get back into the running for a place in the semifinals.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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