Thursday, December 1, 2022

ICC: Australia aiming to become first team to retain Men’s T20 World Cup

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This time a year ago, few were tipping Australia to win their first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

Unfamiliar and unfavourable conditions in UAE and Oman didn’t augur well for a nation whose fortunes in the shortest form have waxed and waned.

But Aaron Finch’s men delivered compelling cricket when it mattered and with the most settled squad in the tournament, will now defend their title on home soil.

2022 prospects

Australia have made only one change to the squad that emerged victorious in 2021 and will aim to become the first team to retain the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

That brings Tim David into the fray, a burly Singapore-born batter who hit 16 of the 86 balls he faced in the IPL in 2022 for six.

Finch has largely used him at six in the early days of his T20 international career, marking a subtle shift in orthodoxy that has seen power hitters traditionally placed high in the order.

There is no place for all-rounder Cameron Green, a selection call that has raised eyebrows, with Australia placing faith in some of the world’s greatest multi-format players.

They rightly sit among the favourites to win the whole thing with conditions suiting them down to the ground and home crowds squarely behind them.

T20 World Cup history

Australia didn’t start well at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. As reigning Men’s Cricket World Cup champions, their first game ended in five-wicket defeat to Zimbabwe.

They recovered to make the semi-finals and their turbulent relationship with T20 continued with a group-stage exit in 2009.

Australia were well beaten by rivals England in the 2010 final and reached the semi-finals in 2012, always in contention but never quite managing to produce the complete knockout performance.

It looked like they had been left behind by the rest of the world when they failed to navigate the Super 10 in both 2014 and 2016 but a rousing run to the final last year wiped the slate clean.

Best batters

Why not start with David Warner, whose three half-centuries and 289 runs were pivotal to the 2021 triumph.

This month Warner smacked 75 against West Indies and 73 against England to suggest he is rounding into form once again.

The batting order is finely balanced between power and poise, with skipper Finch offering a steady hand on the tiller and Matthew Wade one of the finest finishers in the game.

They will hope to see an upturn in fortunes for Glenn Maxwell and that David comes off on major event debut.

Best bowlers

Australia’s gun pace attack have reinvented themselves in the T20 format with the outstanding Pat Cummins capable of taking the ball in any given situation.

Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc combine to form a peerless battery that will make merry on fast, bouncy surfaces.

Concerns remain over the spin bowling department and an over-reliance on Adam Zampa. Finch’s plans will be tested if teams manage to hit the leg-spinner out of the attack.

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