By Wisden India Staff in Mirpur
Despite conceding 191, Australia captain back his bowlers, credits Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch for making it tough for Pakistan
After Australia went down by 16 runs in its opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 to Pakistan, George Bailey said even though his team had conceded 191, it was the fielding more than the bowling that disappointed him.
Brad Hogg put down Umar Akmal on 22 and he went on to make a match-defining 94. Additionally, Kamran Akmal was dropped of a no-ball, there were several misfields and the outcricket was generally ragged, which forced the Australia captain to say, “It (the fielding) was shoddy for the standard that we set ourselves. It was something that we spoke about what we thought in this tournament could be a point of difference. It’s something that we’ve done very well in our last few games, and tonight, it wasn’t to the standard that we’ve set ourselves.
“I am not as disappointed with the bowling as with the fielding. I wasn’t too disappointed with the bowling, though there are always things you can improve. I think they were 40 for 2 after about seven (overs), which was a really good start for us, so certainly things to improve on, but not too disappointing.”
As much as the fielding, Australia also frittered a great position, having reached 126 for 3 and needing 66 off 50, when Glenn Maxwell was dismissed. Maxwell had muscled his way to a career-best 74 off 33, but the wheels fell off after he was picked up by Shahid Afridi.
“It’s a disappointment of losing, but I guess in terms of the bigger picture … to get ourselves to a stage where we needed 70 off 60 shows a lot of promise – two outstanding innings from ‘Maxy’ (Maxwell) and ‘Finchy’ (Aaron Finch) so that’s really good for us, but absolutely, from there you’d like to think you can finish it off.
“It was an outstanding fightback from Maxy and Finchy to get us back into the game. To lose two of our most destructive batters (David Warner and Shane Watson) within the first over, and for those guys to be able to rebuild and get the momentum back our way and get the game to a stage where we should’ve won was outstanding. I thought they summed the situation up really well.”
Explaining the meltdown after Maxwell’s fall, Bailey said, “There was just a shift in momentum. I certainly found it pretty hard to get going, whether to take that risk and knowing that they had probably five or six overs from their best bowlers left, in Afridi, (Saeed) Ajmal and Umar Gul, who all bowled very well. I thought we played him (Ajmal) ok. I think he went at eight an over and as far as the best spin bowler in the world goes, I thought we played him quite nicely. I don’t think he gets that title lightly. He’s earned it; he’s a very, very good bowler.
“Shahid Afridi’s a very, very good bowler and they’ve built those reputations over a very long time. Spin will play a part in this tournament, as we’ve said all along. It will probably play more of a part as the tournament goes on. It actually didn’t spin much tonight. It was probably balls that didn’t spin as much as the ones that did that caused the trouble. We’ll keep working on it and keep trying to get better. But I don’t necessarily think we played it badly.”
Maxwell’s innings was a fabulous effort, and Bailey acknowledged it. “As journalists, I’m sure you can have some fun making up some words and using some words there, it was outstanding,” grinned Bailey. “That’s exactly why he’s batting in that position (No. 4) for us. We know he’s got the power, we know he’s got that shot-making ability … but I thought it was a mature innings too; he picked gaps at time as well, he went up and down in momentum as was required.”