By R Kaushik in Mirpur
Australia captain says qualifying for ICC World Twenty20 semifinals will be hard after two losses
The West Indies side celebrated the win with gusto, dancing around the park and pumping fists after chasing down Australia's 178 for 8. Bailey said while it was tempting to blame the bowling for the defeat, the batting hadn’t done all that good and the fielding was once again below standards. “I think your mind tends to track back to the most recent thing in the bowling. But once again, I don’t think we batted particularly well,” said the Australian captain. “Just having a quick think about it, all of the top six played pretty ordinary shots, poor shots at inappropriate times. The fact that we scraped to 178 was pleasing given that I don’t think we batted particularly well.
“Once again, we probably let ourselves down in the field with some chances. That comes back to bite you harder in T20 than most formats. The repercussions of that are so instant. I’m sure there’s things we can do differently with the ball and there’d be guys who’d like to have better overs again and do something a little different. But I don’t think you can lay the blame just on the bowlers. Certainly all three disciplines were once again not up to the standards that we’ve set.”
Asked if some of the shot-selection was because of an ambitious target in mind, Bailey replied, “Our mindset is to be attacking. We want to be putting bowlers under pressure, and if you go through our top four, you’d say they’re all pretty aggressive players. They certainly like to take the bowling on, and that’s the risk and reward of that. More often than not with these four, I think they’ve been pretty consistent in pulling it off. One thing I’ve been pleased with in the past is when they’ve gone and the decisions they’ve made have been really good, so that’s always going to be the challenge but I’d much rather see us get bowled out for 120 in the 14th over than be a team that scraps to 130. Going forward, for the way that we want to play T20 cricket … we haven’t batted as well as we would’ve liked today and we get 180 – that’s pleasing in a lot of ways, but it’s disappointing in a lot of others.”
Australia are practically out of the tournament after Friday’s results, but Bailey insisted the balance of the team was not to blame for it. “The balance is right, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve lost two games but … it’s not like we’ve been knocked over for 120 in each game,” he pointed out. “We feel like we haven’t batted very well in our last two games and we’ve scored 180 and 175, so it’s not a glaring weakness. I’d say the same about our bowling and I’d say the same about our fielding. We’ve just lost two close games in a tournament where you can’t afford to lose two close games.
“I haven’t actually crunched all the numbers, but I would imagine it makes it pretty difficult (for Australia to get through to the semis). We looked at the start of the tournament and probably thought you could lose one. I’m not sure you can afford to lose two.”
There was praise for James Muirhead, the 20-year-old legspinner who bowled three overs for 21 and picked up the wicket of Chris Gayle. “We had faith in Jim from what he had done in the three games he had played for Australia. He is someone who likes it when more pressure is on and the more competitive the nature of the game. Jim's competitive streak comes to the fore.”
Bailey said he hadn’t been tempted to give Muirhead a final over at the death. “I am not sure there is many leggies that have bowled in overs 17-20,” he said. “James had done his job and bowled pretty challengingly to the short boundary. We are looking at that retrospectively now, so it doesn’t matter but I felt with James, it was going to be easier to hit a six. These West Indians are big buggers -- they hit the ball and it stays hit. Not many fall short of the fence, that was just the way it worked out. I would have introduced him into the game earlier (than the 11th over) but with Chris Gayle there, I thought it was a bit of a risk.”