‘It just wasn’t our day’ – Steven Smith
As the Australia team disbands and the players go their separate ways – some to join the IPL, others to rest and prepare for the next campaign – Steven Smith was left to reflect on the repeated failings of his side in a disappointing World T20 campaign, the only major prize in the game that has proved to be elusive.
There was, of course, praise for Virat Kohli‘s brilliant chase – an innings that would have led to victory over better sides – but Smith pointed the finger squarely at Australia’s batting through the middle overs, as he has done throughout the tournament, as the key impediment to T20 success.
After Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch blasted their way through the Powerplay, putting on a 54-run stand in 4.1 overs, Australia struggled on the slowing pitch. It was a consistent theme of their campaign.
“That was a pretty serious innings,” Smith said of Kohli’s unbeaten 82. “I thought we were in a pretty good position at one point there with them needing about two a ball. I thought 160 was about par on that wicket. It just took a seriously unbelievable innings under pressure from Virat Kohli to get his team over the line.
“We probably did let ourselves down in the middle overs again. It’s one area particularly in these conditions that we haven’t done so well at. It’s something that we’ve worked really hard on so we probably let ourselves down a little bit there, losing a few wickets in clumps and not being able to get that partnership together to get probably just above par to 170 or so.
“But I think all the players will learn a lot from this World Cup, playing in these conditions again, it’s very valuable and hopefully we can continue to learn and get better.
“The wicket was a little bit slow and the ball got chewed up pretty quick so it was quite soft, although it didn’t look too soft when Virat was hitting it. But it was tough to bat in those middle overs – I thought they timed their run chase really well in the end, they were running lots of twos and hitting the fielders in the outfield and putting pressure on. That’s probably where the game sort of turned. They were able to get a lot of twos and put us under pressure.”
Australia had juggled and tinkered with the makeup of their bowling attack and their batting order both in their lead up matches and during the World T20, but Smith maintained he had no issues with his side’s preparation or selection.
“I strongly believed in the 15 guys we had here to do the job in these conditions,” Smith said. “I think we let ourselves down against New Zealand. We probably should have won that game. To lose that game by eight [runs] was quite shattering. And we were always chasing our tail from there.
“We had to win every game we played and in Twenty20 cricket that’s quite hard. It’s quite a fickle game and all it takes is one player going off like tonight.
“I think we had the right mix,” he added. “I think it was just some of our execution. The middle overs is one part of our game that we’ve been trying to work on and we know that once we get that right then we’re a very dangerous side.
“I guess, for us, it’s about making sure we find a way to play those spinners in the middle overs, getting off strike, not chewing up too many dot balls and just waiting for a ball to hit to the boundary. It’s tough to do in these conditions, it’s very foreign to us but we’ve still got to find a way and find a way to be successful as individuals and it’s up to each individual to do it differently. We all bat differently, it’s just up to us to find a way to do it successfully.”
Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo