Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch is confident his team will put up a strong performance despite lacklustre form in the buildup to this year’s men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman. Australia has lost its last five T20I series having become No. 1 in the rankings in early 2020.
However, for its last three T20I series against New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh – Australia was unable to field a full-strength side. That said, all its first-choice players have returned for the T20 World Cup.
“It [T20 World Cup] is one trophy that has eluded us. I think we’ve been close a couple of times and quite far off on other occasions… We are still very confident going into it, we have got a group that’s played a lot of T20 cricket, not a lot together. Some guys are at different stages of preparation, and some are at different stages of getting back to playing. It comes down to getting it done on that day,” Finch said during an ICC captains’ media interaction on Thursday.
Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson pointed out the fickle nature of the T20 format, while seeming not to pay too much attention to the ‘underdogs’ tag. Having won the inaugural World Test Championship earlier in June, Williamson’s side now has the chance to clinch another world title in the same year.
“The tags are tags. Everyone has one,” said Williamson with a smile. “Anyone can beat anyone on a given day. It is an exciting prospect for the viewers, no doubt. It is a short tournament. The focus will be on trying and getting a bit of early momentum. In these tournaments, you play a different opposition every three days at a different venue, so there are some adjustments to be made quite quickly.”
Kane Williamson pointed out the fickle nature of the T20 format, while seeming not to pay too much attention to the ‘underdogs’ tag – Reuters
New Zealand is placed in Group 2, which also includes former champions India and Pakistan. New Zealand will play two games in Sharjah, where pitches have become sluggish. They will also play two games in Dubai, where tracks have slowed down at the business end of IPL 2021. Williamson is wary of the challenging conditions his team could face in the UAE. “There are trends to the draws – a lot of sub-continent sides in the same pool as us,” Williamson said.
“As we have seen in the second half of IPL, it has been quite variable as far as what’s been a competitive total is concerned .. and then on another day how the pitch has looked same, and the total has been 230… it is about making adjustments. In Bangladesh, it was spin heavy, and here, the spin will again be a large component and on surfaces that will be variable. That said, different players have different skill sets that they want to continue to apply. It is all about subtle adjustments.”
On the other hand, Australia, placed in Group 1, will play three matches in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi. Finch doesn’t think the conditions will pose a big challenge. “We understand the conditions have been quite brutal over the last couple of weeks. The guys from the IPL will be match hardened … and the guys coming from Australia are here on the back of a strong pre-season with their state teams… I think it should be fine.. heat will be a challenge, but teams will be okay with it. Players have been training well with their respective states – unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get together as a group yet. Most guys are out of quarantine here today. There’s Josh Hazlewood left in the IPL. Pat [Cummins] arrived late, so over a couple of days, we will have a strong hitout. We have to be adaptable in these times,” he said.
The T20 World Cup will start on October 17 with the first round matches. Four teams from a group of eight will advance to the main event, where they will join the top-eight teams, which have qualified for the event directly. The final will be played on November 14