Australia walk tightrope in bid to reach T20 World Cup semi-finals

Australia have reset after a resounding Twenty20 World Cup loss to England as they attempt to complete a tightrope walk to the semi-finals. Aaron Finch’s side will only be guaranteed a place in the final four if they defeat Bangladesh and West Indies, on Thursday and Saturday night (AEDT) respectively, then England take down South Africa.

The Proteas are likely to finish the pool stage with a superior net run-rate to Australia, allowing them to advance if the rivals are locked on the same number of wins. But Finch and coach Justin Langer have urged Australia to focus on a simple equation, rather than run-rate machinations or a miserable last-start defeat.

“It was very brief,” spinner Ashton Agar said of the squad’s first debrief after a bruising eight-wicket defeat. “It was about just moving on, putting what happened behind us and focusing on the games in front of us.

“Purely thinking about the two games we have to win … that helps you move on from the England game. Everyone knows what they have to do. We’ve got plenty of guys who have played a lot of cricket, played a lot of tournaments and understand the game well.”

Agar was surprisingly overlooked in Australia’s two opening victories at the event. Australia’s top-ranked T20 bowler was recalled to face England, when Langer reverted to his preferred option of five frontline bowlers in the XI. Langer is now stewing over whether to recall allrounder Mitch Marsh to boost the side’s batting depth, most likely at the expense of Agar.

“It’s really tough anytime you don’t get selected when you’ve been playing well,” the left-arm tweaker said. “But you understand that it’s part of being part of a really strong squad. You do everything you can to help your mates out out there because it certainly takes a squad to win these tournaments.”

Australia end the pool stage with a pair of daytime games, ensuring dew will not be an issue while diminishing the importance of the toss relative to night fixtures. Agar noted he and legspinner Adam Zampa would relish the chance to shine on a dry pitch.

“It [dew] maybe greases up the wicket a little bit, so the ball comes onto the bat a bit nicer,” Agar said. “For the spinners, maybe it will help. Zamps and I feel like we can exploit those conditions pretty well.”

Bangladesh are yet to record a win in the Super 12 stage of this World Cup but, earlier this year, inflicted a crushing 4-1 T20 series win over an understrength Australian XI. “We have a very different looking side and the wickets certainly aren’t playing like those pitches,” Agar said.

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