By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
Australia captain calls 73-run defeat to India the most disappointing in his career as leader of the T20I team
It was a batting display completely out of character as one batsman after another was caught in the deep trying the most outlandish of strokes, moving George Bailey to call it the most disappointing game he has been part of as Australia’s Twenty20 International captain.
“Yes, it was an unexpected and a disappointing collapse,” said a distraught Aussie skipper after the game. “It was comfortably the most disappointing loss of the tournament. I’d go so far as to say it’s the most disappointing game that I’ve led from this team, for three years. I was quite happy with how we bowled and fielded, but the batting was disappointing.”
Bailey said if there was any embarrassment at all, it was with his own batting performances, three innings here having brought him just 24 runs. “If I was embarrassed, I’d say it is with my own performance, to my own decision. I’m disappointed for the team. I’m disappointed with the way we batted. But I’ve got pretty big faith in these guys. I’m not sticking up for them in terms of … we all could’ve made better decisions and do things different if we had our chance again. But I’m not embarrassed for anyone, apart from myself,” he said.
As well as India bowled, Bailey laid the blame for this defeat squarely on the shoulders of his batting unit. “They (the spinners) bowled ok, their quicks bowled ok. I’ll give all the credit to the Indian bowlers, they obviously bowled well, but I certainly don’t think that our batters can hold their heads particularly high,” he insisted. “Our shot selection, our match awareness, our game sense, all that stuff that we’d spoken about in the last game that we weren’t particularly happy with, and we asked for improvement, but we certainly didn’t have that.”
The fact that Pakistan had beaten Bangladesh earlier in the day to end Australia’s slender hopes was no justification for this abject collapse, Bailey said, when he was asked if the batsmen’s minds were elsewhere following that result. “They might’ve been, but it’s not an excuse. We felt like we’d played a couple of good games of cricket where we’ve been on the losing side of it,” went on Bailey, referring to the 16-run and six-wicket losses previously to Pakistan and West Indies.
“Without being disrespectful to Bangladesh, it would’ve been a shock to us if Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan, so we weren’t arriving here expecting miracles. There was enough for us to prove by playing India and playing well (against) who we think are going to be close to tournament favourites, and to win the game to prove that we actually were a really good side over here and deserved to go better, but it was not to be. It’s clichéd but I think anytime you’re playing for Australia, I’d hate to think you’d need extra motivation.”
Australia was forced to scramble for runs this time around, reaching 21 for 2 after five overs, but Bailey said that conservatism hadn’t been part of the plan or that Australia began carefully because it was batting deeper, having brought in Cameron White for James Faulkner. “I don’t think it was any deeper really. We had Hadds (Brad Haddin) at No. 8 (against West Indies) and we had Hadds at No. 8 again tonight. I don’t think we were batting particularly deeper. It was a slightly different make-up. It certainly shouldn’t have been a reason for us to be more conservative. That’s not our plan. But once again, I hadn’t spoken to the guys at the top. I’d back them, they’re all aggressive players. I would say if they were finding it hard, it’s probably a credit to the Indian bowlers,” he said.
Bailey did concede that the absence of a Plan B when wickets were going down like ninepins had hurt his team. “That was the case tonight, absolutely,” he agreed. “If I’m thinking back to our T20 form, and that’s really all I’ll talk about, over the last say 12 months, I reckon that’s the first time we’ve scored under 170. We certainly want to be aggressive and we want to dictate the game. There does need to be a back-up plan. And that’s the response from us in the middle order to understand where the game was at.
“I think you’ve got a perfect example from the other side in the way Yuvraj (Singh) managed that innings from where India were. I think runs-wise from about the tenth-over mark we were roughly about the same but we’d (lost) three or four more wickets. So that probably sums up our mindset and the mistakes that we made.”