T20 WC 2022: Australia and their title defense stage to downhill conclusion at a rapid pace

 Till date, no team has successfully defended their title in the ICC Men’s T2O World Cup but Australia had a great chance of breaking this jinx amidst a highly enthusiastic home crowd. And then, they were termed as one of the favorites to lift the title. But things didn’t go to their plan and the blooming dream fainted pretty soon- in the opening encounter itself, you can say!!!

©Twitter/TOI Sports

Smooth buildup to the mega event: 

Australia experienced a rather horror time in the buildup to the T20 WC 2021, where they lost five series but eventually came out as the champions. This time around, things were much smoother for the men in yellow. They won in Sri Lanka in July and then gave a tough fight to India in September, followed by a comprehensive whitewash against the Windies in October.

In fact, their worst series came right before the tournament against their arch rivals, England where they lost by 2-0 with no result in the last game. And then came the warmup clash against India, where they were almost certain to win but two freakish pieces of fielding from Virat Kohli helped reverse the outcome in the blink of an eye.

The show unfolds at Sydney against New Zealand:

And the Super 12 took center stage finally after weeks of anticipation and it started off with the Trans-Tasman rivalry at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Less than a year ago, these two sides met at Dubai where Mitchell Marsh played a sensational innings and annihilated the Kiwi bowlers, smashing them to all corners of the park. 

Once again, Aaron Finch won the toss and decided to field first. But the first day of the Super 12 stage in the T20 World Cup was lit up by a 23-year-old Finn Allen who decided to go bonkers from the word go and disrupted all plans set up by the Aussies. He took a special liking to Mitchell Starc’s pace as he hammered him for 14 runs in the opening over itself. 15 more came from the 2nd over bowled by the then World No.1 T20I bowler, Josh Hazlewood. And by the time Allen departed, he had already scored 42(16) and set a solid platform for the Kiwis with 56/1 off just 4.1 overs. Added to that, Allen’s onslaught meant Conway could bide in the middle to take down Adam Zampa’s leg spin in the middle overs and the Kiwis eventually finished at 200/3 off 20 overs.

That needed some chase from the Aussies. And with Aaron Finch out of form, David Warner was definitely going to be the key wicket. Also, with NZ playing a leggie and a slow left arm orthodox in Sodhi and Santner respectively, David Warner was the only left-handed batter (LHB) in that top six who seemed to be a positive matchup against the duo on a sluggish SCG pitch. But things didn’t go to their plan and they lost Warner in the second over itself.

And then the wickets kept tumbling. Australia never seemed to be threatened the Kiwis as the required rate kept climbing and all their batters perished in trying to clear the ropes. Things just didn’t go their way as they lost by a huge margin of 89 runs.

Nobody expected such a result in their very first match, at least not against a team who never won any match Down Under since 2011. But maybe the stars weren’t aligned for Aaron Finch’s men this time around.

Read More: https://www.cricfeats.com/2022/09/a-welcome-virat-kohli-century-time-seem.html

Narrow Escape at the Optus against Sri Lanka:

After that first match, Australia not only needed wins but big wins to survive in the ‘Group of Death’. And they were facing Sri Lanka at the Optus stadium in Perth. SL put up 157/6 in 20 overs and it looked like Australia would definitely look to chase it down pretty quickly. But things turned out to be pretty tricky. They lost Warner early and Finch had a torrid time at the crease, unable to time anything. Maxwell tried infusing a bit of momentum into the chase but then succumbed to the pacers on a tricky Optus track, with the hosts still needing another 69 runs off 46 balls.

In came, the local boy, Marcus Stoinis and he played an incredible innings of 59*(18) as he registered the second fastest ever T20 WC half century, bettered only by Yuvraj Singh in 2007. Stoinis’ knock helped Australia recover their net run rate (NRR) by a great deal and also register their first win in this tournament.

©Twitter/TOI Sports

But Australia still had a lot of questions to answer. Their openers are not firing. Pat Cummins was leaking runs and Maxwell was having some tough time in the middle for a great period of time now. But they wanted to carry on this confidence into their next encounter against the English team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which eventually got washed out, leading to both teams sharing a point apiece. This was definitely not what Australia wished ahead of the marquee clash between cricket’s two oldest rivals. But this was another instance which proved that this was just not their year.

This meant, Australia needed to win both of their last two matches against Ireland and Afghanistan by big margins in order to stay in contention, else hope for other results to go their way. 

Business end of the Group Stage:

Australia faced Ireland at the Gabba in a must-win encounter. They batted well to get to 179/5 off 20 overs, with their skipper Aaron Finch leading the way with a 44 ball 63. But now they needed a superb bowling performance to get a big win and they got almost the perfect start with Ireland reeling at 25/5 after 4 overs.

Mitchell Starc just bowled a sensational over of just one run and couple of wickets. It looked like Australia had found their feet, albeit a bit late. But then, Lorcan Tucker played an incredible innings of 71*(48) to help reducing the margin of defeat to just 42 runs, when at least a 70-run defeat looked highly probable at one stage. And the Aussies rued of once again wasting a golden opportunity to boost their NRR.

Australia’s last match was against Afghanistan and as fate would have it, they lost Finch and Tim David to injuries and were forced to play Cameron Green and Steve Smith in their places. Added to that, they decided to bench Starc for Kane Richardson, which eventually turned out to be a pretty shocking decision. They didn’t get off to a very good start and eventually huffed and puffed their way to 168 with Glenn Maxwell finally scoring a 50 after a great deal of time. 

©TOI Sports/Twitter

And then Afghanistan almost gave Australia a scare with Rashid Khan playing a blinder of 48*(23) but unfortunately losing by just 4 runs. With such a narrow defeat, Australia had only one hope of qualifying and that was if SL beats ENG. But it didn’t happen and the home team eventually got knocked out at Group Stage.

This was definitely a shame, a golden chance lost. Things never went their way from day one and the trend continued till the last day. With a lot of their key players not turning up in the nick of time, things went from bad to worse. And last but not the least, Lorcan Tucker and Rashid Khan- these two guys couldn’t win against Australia but definitely made sure that Australia had no chance of overtaking England on NRR!!!

With their game T20I game is scheduled to be in next July, there is plenty of time for the selection committee and management to plan their team for the next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2024 which is going to be arranged jointly in West Indies and United States of America (USA).

0/Post a Comment/Comments