Seven wins in eight games – Australia’s unbeaten T20I run in 2019 portends a good campaign in the ICC T20 World Cup at home next year. It is a trophy that has long evaded the Aussies and they will certainly be one of the firm favourites when the next edition kicks off in October, 2020.
They beat India twice away from home before trouncing Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their own backyard this year.
In the past year, head coach Justin Langer and captain Aaron Finch have built a strong outfit, trying out different players for specific roles which has resulted in a solid batting lineup and a reliable bowling attack.
Here are the some of the best performers from their unbeaten T20I squad:
David Warner and Steve Smith
David Warner has come back with a vengeance after his one-year ban and he has certainly Australia’s best batsman in limited-overs cricket. The southpaw scored 287 runs in six innings for Australia and has been dismissed only once. Warner scored his maiden T20I ton and also picked up three consecutive Player-of-the-match awards in the series against Sri Lanka. He was electric on the field as well, as highlighted by the brilliant run-out he effected against Babar Azam.
Steve Smith made a return to the format after three years and has scored two unbeaten fifties. He is a classy batsman who provides balance to the line up as he can anchor an innings and go after the bowling, depending on the situation. He bagged the player of the series award against Pakistan for his match-winning knock in the second T20I of the series.
Glenn Maxwell’s indefinite break from cricket is the only slight blemish in Australia’s superb season. The all-rounder, ranked No.1 in the shortest format, is a vital cog in Aaron Finch’s team as he can provide the extra impetus in the death overs with his big-hitting while also filling in as a support bowler.
In the three T20I innings he played in 2019, Maxwell scored an unbeaten century and two fifties. His average this year is a commendable 115.50, while his astounding strike rate reads 183.33.
D’Arcy Short was called in as a replacement for him in the recent series against Sri Lanka but Stoinis’ all-round ability could prompt the selectors to give him another chance. However, with the team management lauding Maxwell for being proactive in identifying the problem, he could well return in time for the World Cup.
The Australian management’s crowning achievement has been the development of a pool of eight international pacers for the limited-overs format. All of Australia’s frontline bowlers (minimum five matches) have an economy-rate under seven in 2019.
The return of Mitchell Starc to the shortest format after playing just three T20Is in the past three years, is a huge boost for the hosts ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup. The pace spearhead featured in five games and picked up eight wickets at an economy of 6.63. The 29-year-old’s pace and swing with the new ball is extremely difficult to counter in the powerplay.
Like most other international teams, Australia too have a left-arm spinner who can bat well and a specialist wrist-spinner in their ranks. In their eight games in 2019, Australia have included two spinners in their playing XI on five occasions which augurs well for Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. Both tweakers boast of an economy rate under seven and will be the front-line options for the World Cup.
Though Agar hasn’t had a chance to bat this year, he has been superb with the ball picking up seven wickets in 23 overs at an average under 20.
Australia will play two T20I series away from home, one in South Africa and one in England before the hosting the 2020 ICC T20I World Cup. Those six T20Is should help them narrow down on their World Cup squad from this talented bunch of players.
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