Aaron Finch: Australia facing 'must-wins' against Bangladesh, West Indies

Aaron Finch: Australia facing ‘must-wins’ against Bangladesh, West Indies

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Captain admits England “dominated us from the start” but remains confident in side’s ability

Aaron Finch has insisted that Australia are “a very good team in T20 international cricket” despite their eight-wicket hammering against England in Dubai on Saturday night, but he recognised that the scale of their defeat – with 50 balls to spare – leaves them with two “must-wins” against Bangladesh and West Indies in their last two Super 12s fixtures.

Australia opted to revert to the six-batter, five-bowler strategy that they had ditched on the eve of the T20 World Cup, bringing Ashton Agar back into the side in place of Mitchell Marsh, but Finch was immediately left rueing the decision as he watched wickets fall around him. Australia slipped to 21 for 4 and then 51 for 5, and despite a late flurry taking them to 125 all out, then watched England knock the runs off two wickets down inside 12 overs.

“It was just one of those nights,” Finch said. “Davey [David Warner] got a decent one early, Smithy [Steven Smith] toe-ended one and Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] missed a pick-up off his pads which you’d generally expect him to hit. That can happen in the powerplay when you’re looking to be aggressive. [We were] just blown away.

“They completely dominated us from the start. Any time you go a handful down in the powerplay… every time we felt like we started to get a partnership together, we just kept losing a wicket and it just meant we had to sit in longer, try and get a total of 150, and see if that would be competitive. As it was, we probably needed a few more.

“It wasn’t too long ago that we were No. 1 in the world. I still think we’re a very good team in T20 international cricket. Everyone’s got their own opinion so that doesn’t really matter; what really matters is results. If you think that we’re a really ordinary side, that’s okay.”

Finch explained that the decision to restore Agar to the side owed to the fact Australia saw him as “a really good match-up for England”, given their openers’ relative struggles against left-arm orthodox spin and his previous success against them (he took five wickets and conceded 7.83 runs an over on their tour there last year).

“Clearly when you go three down in the powerplay, it’s not an ideal scenario when you go in with that structured team,” Finch said. “The reason Agar was in there was that we felt he was a really good match-up for England.

“His ability to bowl in the powerplay and through the middle overs in the past against England has been really good so we just felt that was the way to go tonight. It was not a reflection on how Mitch has been going at all – it was purely just a match-up thing for this game. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get the job done.

“I think obviously in the powerplay, they bowled very well, put us on the back foot, and we were under pressure to try and get to a competitive total. All credit to England, in that powerplay, the way that they squeezed us, kept taking wickets… when you go in with six specialist batters, that is going to leave you a little bit short at times.”

Australia may need to win both of their remaining Super 12s games to ensure qualification after the hit to their net run-rate, with games against Bangladesh in Dubai on Thursday and West Indies in Abu Dhabi on Saturday to come – both of whom beat Australia in their recent T20I series. Finch said that the squad would have a couple of days off after a short turnaround following their win against Sri Lanka, and acknowledged that they could not afford another off-night.

“The boys deserve a couple of days off,” he said. “We’ll recharge the batteries, have a couple of strong days of training and then be back into it: I’m not concerned about carrying baggage into a different game against a totally different opposition.

“They’re definitely must-wins. Our net run-rate took a hammering tonight so we’re going to have to be at our best. Bangladesh are a very, very good side and so are the West Indies – a lot of firepower in their team, a lot of experience. It’s must-win from now on – but we’re looking forward to it.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98