By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
The earlier Gayle can be picked up, “the longer you go in terms of winning the game”, says Australia's wicket-keeper-batsman
The pressures of a must-win game are well imaginable, but Australia’s wicket-keeper, Brad Haddin, chose to throw a positive spin, saying the situation could free up the team instead. “Sometimes, that can relieve the pressure because you know where you stand now. There is no second chance for us,” said Haddin on Thursday. “We have got to make sure that we bring our A-game and deliver under pressure. We have done that well over the last four months and I see no reason why we can’t continue with that.”
Chris Gayle, the West Indies powerhouse, has been somewhat out of sorts in this tournament despite making 82 runs in 81 balls in his two innings so far, but Haddin stressed that Gayle remained a dangerous opponent at all times. “We have seen over T20 cricket for a long time that Chris Gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen along with Shane Watson in this form of the game,” he said. “The earlier you get guys like that, the longer you go in terms of winning the game. It’s important that we get him early and it’s no different with any stroke-maker with that sort of power in the batting line-up.”
The West Indies tended to rely on its spinners in the Twenty20 format, an option that shows its familiarity with the nuances of the game, Haddin pointed out. “West Indies have embraced T20 cricket as well as anyone else in the world. They have got their own competition now in the Caribbean and they were the winners of this tournament the last time. From that point of view, they have got a pretty good understanding of how to play this format. I think these wickets are very similar to what they have at home. They have got a pretty good idea of the way they want to play,” he said.
Spin is expected to play a bigger role in Bangladesh as the tournament progresses, and Haddin conceded that wrist spinners in particular are an integral part of the game. “Wrist spinners are dangerous in any format. Conditions have ensured that the real wrist spinners have been very effective in this tournament. They are an asset to have in your team, especially in T20 cricket when they turn the ball big and the batsmen are going hard,” said Haddin.
Australia has two wrist spinners in Brad Hogg, the Chinaman bowler, and the 20-year-old leggie, James Muirhead, but otherwise look a little light on specialist spin. “That’s not entirely true,” countered Haddin. “We are pretty well covered in the spin department. We have got James Muirhead that can bowl leggies. We have got Brad Hogg that bowls left-arm Chinaman and we have got Maxie (Glenn Maxwell) also. We are pretty well equipped to cover all bases if needed. We will see what we come up with tomorrow if needed. The wicket favoured our pace bowlers at the start of the innings anyway.
“That could be a good debate for the selectors to have,” said Haddin of the potential inclusion of Muirhead, given that the West Indies has six right-hand batsmen in its top seven. “Probably Hoggy too, as he can bowl a good wrong ’un and he has been lethal for a long time against the right-handers. That is something the selectors will have to work out. Young Muirhead has got a very big leggie and he does enjoy bowling to right-handers. It will be interesting to see what they come up with because anyone can play.”
Australia is contemplating bringing in James Faulkner, the left-arm paceman who is also a very handy batsman, to form a three-man left-arm pace attack alongside Mitchell Starc and Doug Bollinger. “There could be a possibility,” acknowledged Haddin. “One of our strengths is our fast bowling. James pulled up well last night, so I think he will come into contention. We have got quite a lot of options we can go with. There are a few left-armers in the team, so we will see who we could go with.
“James can bat from No. 6 down and he can cover all bases as he is pretty reasonable with the bat in this format and he is a big asset to us with his bowling with the way he can jam in the yorker and close out the back-end of a T20 game. He’s a guy who likes winning and is a huge competitor, the sort of guy you would like in your team.”