T20 World Cup: Maxwell should bat at No.4 in the final

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Glenn Maxwell was so successful in the No.4 position in this year’s IPL. — ANI
Glenn Maxwell was so successful in the No.4 position in this year’s IPL. — ANI

Bengaluru - It gives him the space to build his innings and he is a potential match-winner

By Sumit Chakraberty

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Published: Sat 13 Nov 2021, 12:07 AM

Their run-up to the 2021 T20 World Cup was patchy. They sneaked into the knockouts by overtaking South Africa on net run rate. And they were almost down and out at 96 for 5 in the 13th over with 81 more to get in the semifinal against red hot Pakistan. But Australia in cricket World Cups are like Germany in football. They never go away. Now they have a chance to add the T20 World Cup to the five ODI World Cups in their cupboard. All they have to do is beat their trans-Tasman neighbours in the final on Sunday. What’s made this Aussie side suddenly the favourites and what could go wrong?


Wicketkeeper Mathew Wade, batting at No.7, was the unlikely hero in the semifinal. Until midway through the 19th over, his patchy innings was what you might expect from a journeyman with a batting average of 21 and strike rate of 127 in a decade of being in and out of the Australian side. Then, he unleashed a ramp shot off a yorker for a six over his shoulder, stayed upright to smash the slower ball that followed for a six over mid-wicket, and finally kneeled again for the coup de grace ramp shot. These weren’t three lucky shots; he anticipated the yorkers and slower ball. Pakistan’s hero of the tournament till then, 21-year-old Shaheen Shah Afridi, was left looking like a child whose candy had been snatched. Such is the depth in the Aussie batting, and even if Hasan Ali hadn’t spilled Wade’s catch just before the onslaught, there was an equally dangerous hitter waiting at No.8 — Pat Cummins.


David Warner had come into the tournament in the worst extended stretch of failures in his career, so much so that Sunrisers Hyderabad replaced him as captain and even dropped him from the playing XI in the Indian Premier League (IPL). His first few outings in the World Cup continued that trend. Two fifties in the Super 12 kindled hopes, though they were against relatively weak attacks. But in his 49 in 30 balls against the Pakistan pacers and leg-spinner, he looked as sharp as the old Warner, except that he would have reviewed the caught-behind dismissal in his earlier avatar.


The power-hitting of Mitchell Marsh at No.3 is timely. But the middle order is still shaky, with its two stalwarts, Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith, struggling. The solution may be for Maxwell to bat ahead of Smith at the No.4 position where he was so successful in this year’s IPL. It gives him the space to build his innings, and Maxwell is a potential match-winner.


What’s scary for the opposition is that the Australian bowling and captaincy were not even at their best in the semifinal, with Mitchell Starc bowling only one over with the new ball and dishing out half-volleys for Fakhar Zaman to thump for sixes in the final over. A 21-run over from Josh Hazlewood was totally out of character. But they would have learnt the right lengths to bowl in Dubai, and will probably come back stronger in the final.


A freak injury to Devon Conway, New Zealand’s most dependable batsman after skipper Kane Williamson, gives the Aussies a huge advantage in the final, just like the Kiwis got a big boost from England’s swashbuckling opener Jason Roy missing the semifinal with a calf injury. The Aussies were also lucky to win the toss in Dubai in the semifinal against Pakistan, just like the Kiwis in the previous semifinal against England.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru. Write to him at chakraberty@gmail.com

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