With fate (all but) out of their hands, Australia hope to do the best they can

back icon
30 Oct 2022 | 08:34 AM
authorAnirudh Suresh

With fate (all but) out of their hands, Australia hope to do the best they can

The prospect of England goofing up, of course, is not in Australia’s hands so the best they can do is win their next two matches

Put your hand up if you had Ireland above Australia in the Super 12 table after three rounds. Well, I don’t see many hands. I don’t see any, in fact.

But it’s been that kind of a T20 World Cup for the hosts, who were dubbed the favorites pre-tournament. 

The Aussies started their T20WC defence with a hammering at the hands of New Zealand, but did well to bounce back against Sri Lanka, after a shaky start. They could properly have got their campaign back on track with a win against arch-rivals England but rain ensured that they exited MCG with a solitary point. One point lost or one point gained? Anybody’s guess.

The indifferent start, nevertheless, has pretty much taken Australia’s fate out of their own hands. The maximum they can get to is 7 points, but a three-way tie with any of the other teams will, in all likelihood, see them miss out, all thanks to their woeful net run rate. Realistically, Australia can only go through if they win each of their two remaining matches and if England goof up.

The prospect of England goofing up, of course, is not in Australia’s hands so the best they can do is win their next two matches, and do so handsomely. Essentially, win and wait.

The first of the two must-win games for the defending champs is against Ireland at the Gabba. Now, it’s easy to come to the presumption that Ireland is a game the Aussies will win, but if this World Cup has taught us anything, it’s that no game is ever won on paper.

We already brought up the fact of Ireland being above the Aussies in the table, and make no mistake, as things stand, they are as much a semi-final contender as Australia are. If anything, mathematically, they have a better chance of progressing to the next round thanks to their marginally superior net rate.

It all comes down to whether Ireland believe. Believe whether they can make the semis. Believe whether they are capable of taking down both Australia and New Zealand.

After what unfolded at the MCG last week, they just might. 

Powerplay key for Ireland - with both bat and ball

If Ireland are to register the biggest win of their cricketing history, they’ll have to dominate the powerplay - with both bat and ball. Essentially, do a repeat of what they achieved against England.

It sounds tough, but the Irishmen actually can realistically nail it.

Let’s first look at the batting front. 

We know that Ireland went a long way in beating England by absolutely pummeling the Three Lions’ bowlers in the first six overs, smashing 59 runs. Stirling, Balbirnie and Tucker were outstanding. Can they practically aim to replicate the same?

The numbers tell us that YES they can.

The Aussies have been pretty average with the ball in the first six since the start of the India series in September, averaging 34 while leaking runs at an ER of 8.5. 

In other words, they have, on average, conceded 51 runs in the first six overs across their last 10 T20Is. They do tend to get rattled at times and one of the instances came in the opening match of the Super 12 stage, where they were taken apart by Finn Allen’s blitz. 

Against both West Indies (64/0) and England (59/1), Ireland took the attack to the bowlers from the get go, and that is precisely what they should aim to do come Monday. In a way, they have no other option.

With the ball, too, they’ll go a long way in beating the Aussies by jolting them up-front. 

How about this for a stat? Australia have lost 2 or more wickets in the powerplay this year in T20Is 9 times, and in those games, they’ve gone on to win just thrice.

The Aussies rely so much on their top three to do the run scoring that, when they lose quick wickets, they often tend to lose their way.

We know the likes of Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy and newbie Fionn Hand can all move the ball a fair bit, but Josh Little could be Balbirnie’s trump card on Monday. 

Among Super 12 sides, Australia are by far the worst side against left-arm seam, averaging a shocking 16.4 since 2021. 

In the past 18 months alone, their Top 4 batters, among them, have been dismissed a total of 14 times by left-arm seamers. 

Little led Ireland’s charge against England by removing Buttler in the very first over, and if he could do something similar against Australia by removing Warner, you just never know what might unfold. 

Zampa and Maxwell will be key for Australia

Australia, on paper, have a pace attack that has the ability to intimidate any batting unit in the world, but it will by no means be an overstatement to claim that, come Monday, their spinners hold the key.  

For Ireland have been hysterically poor against spin bowling in the past 18 months in the shortest format. Since the start of 2021, Ireland have averaged a mere 18.6 against spin — this is the lowest figure among all the sides currently in the Super 12. 

Breaking down their struggles further, the Irish batters, remarkably, have averaged just 13.4 against off-spin in the said period, despite their batting unit consisting exclusively of right-handers. Their record against leg-spin is no better — an average of 18.00, losing a wicket every 15.4 balls.

In this World Cup, there has been a marked difference in their numbers versus spin compared to how they’ve fared against pace. While they’ve averaged 27.9 and struck at 137.8 versus the seamers, their subsequent numbers against spin has been very poor: an average of 19.6 and SR of 121.4.

Even in the clash against England, it was spin that proved to be their Achilles heel. Between them, Livingstone and Rashid finished with figures of 3/41 off 7 overs; in contrast, Woakes, Wood and Curran conceded 106 off the 10 overs they bowled.

Zampa and Maxwell, therefore, could pose significant trouble to the Irish batters. Maxwell has only bowled one over all tournament, but don’t be surprised if he ends up bowling three or more on Monday.

Probable XIs

Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood

Ireland: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Lorcan Tucker (wk), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Fionn Hand, Barry McCarthy, Joshua Little

shareGray Share
Australia vs IrelandICC Men's T20 World Cup, Australia, 2022AustraliaIreland

Related Articles

Impressive Ireland put England in familiar darkness
11 years after their first shock, Ireland have done it again!
userAakash Sivasubramaniam
26 Oct 2022
England face a familiar Irish hurdle at MCG
Ireland were on top of England, the last time these two sides faced each other in a World Cup
userAakash Sivasubramaniam
25 Oct 2022
Dane Cleaver shines as New Zealand secure T20I series win over Ireland
The batter scored an unbeaten 78 before Bracewell became only the third New Zealand bowler to take a hat-trick at this level
21 Jul 2022
A series win that could propel Ireland to greater heights
Ireland came from behind to beat West Indies 2-1 in the ODI series to kick start the year on a perfect note
userPramod Ananth
20 Jan 2022
A new era for Ireland cricket awaits after an underwhelming 2021
Despite a few sparking individual performances, it was largely a year to forget for the Irish side
userPramod Ananth
07 Jan 2022
Are form, confidence and bilateral results relevant? Not if you’re Australia
Not for the first time, the Aussies have peaked just at the right time
userAnirudh Suresh
06 Nov 2021
Campher-inspired Ireland take giant leap towards Super 12 qualification
A thumping 7-wicket win has put Ireland in pole position in Group A
userAnirudh Suresh
18 Oct 2021
Shamsi spins a web around Ireland to help South Africa to a 33-run win in 1st T20I
The South Africa wrist-spinner continues his excellent form from the West Indies series
usercricket.com staff
20 Jul 2021
Craig Young: Win over England one of my proudest moments in an Irish jersey
The Ireland fast bowler speaks about the upcoming series against South Africa, his Test aspirations, the famous win over England in Southampton last year and more
userPramod Ananth
09 Jul 2021
Curtis Campher returns to Ireland's squad for South Africa ODIs
All-rounder Curtis Campher was named in Ireland's 15-man ODI for the upcoming home series against South Africa
userSamarnath Soory
30 Jun 2021
Cricket like never before
Follow us on
@ 2020 cricket.com | All rights reserved