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Match Preview – Australia vs West Indies, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 38th Match, Group 1




West Indies are eliminated but could still cause problems for the contenders – South Africa will certainly hope they do

Big picture

Group 1 now looks significantly different than it did a couple of days ago. Australia hold the aces in terms of booking a semi-final position in what is a two-horse race with South Africa. Various permutations are here, but as South Africa play second, the exact outcome wouldn’t be known until the end of the day. It could be that a team exits the World Cup despite winning four group matches.

Australia could not have done any more against Bangladesh, skittling them for 73 and racing to the target in 6.2 overs. They will hope that with West Indies now eliminated following their defeat to Sri Lanka, there is a chance for something similar in Abu Dhabi. However, West Indies’ batting line-up still shapes as posing more of a threat than the brittle and confidence-sapped Bangladesh.

The bowling attack Australia have at their disposal is not vastly different from the one that was involved in the 4-1 series defeat in the Caribbean earlier this year, aside from the addition of Pat Cummins. They reverted to four frontline bowlers and the extra batter after the pummelling by England – it leaves a greater onus on Glenn Maxwell but does feel a better balance.

A semi-final berth was the bare minimum required by Australia to give their tournament a pass mark. Their build-up was dominated by defeats and debates over personnel but, while the heavy loss to England rekindled many of the questions, when they have clicked there has been some good cricket. A second-place finish in this group would mean a likely meeting with Pakistan.

There will be at least one farewell from international cricket within the West Indies side with Dwayne Bravo confirming he would retire after the tournament. Given a need to rebuild there may be others as well, although perhaps not Chris Gayle, who has previously said he has eyes on next year’s T20 World Cup as well, and captain Kieron Pollard has already said he wasn’t going to quit.

Form guide

Australia WLWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LWLLL

In the spotlight

Is David Warner getting his form back? It’s been a tricky one to judge so far. He has a half century against Sri Lanka but was given a life when Kusal Perera dropped a sitter along the way. He played some good shots against South Africa before finding point, nicked a decent ball from Chris Woakes and then had a bit of a hack against Bangladesh as Australia sought quick runs. There probably needs a bit more evidence yet before it’s known if Warner has found the old groove.
Chris Gayle may want to play next year’s World Cup, but can he? His highest score in his last ten T20I innings is 21. However, the innings before that was 67 off 38 balls against Australia, when questions were again being asked about what he had left in the tank. That, though, is his only half-century since the hundred he made against England in the 2016 T20 World Cup. In 30 innings after that he is averaging 14. Time might really be running out now.

Team news

There would seem little reason for Australia to change having secured their three wins in the tournament with this team.

Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr could come back into the equation as he has an excellent record against Australia (12 wickets at 11.66). Aaron Finch said he expected him to play. “He had a sensational series against us over there,” he said. “I do think we’re better equipped to deal with that at the moment. Obviously having played him before in a five-game series there’s been a lot more information sharing amongst the boys and chat about that.”

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Roston Chase, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Kieron Pollard (capt), 8 Jason Holder, 9 Dwayne Bravo, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Ravi Rampaul/Hayden Walsh Jr

Pitch and conditions

Australia won their previous game at this ground chasing in a nervy finish against South Africa. In a bit of an upturn, the last three contests in Abu Dhabi have been won by the side batting first.

Stats and trivia

  • The two teams have met five times at the T20 World Cup with West Indies leading 3-2
  • Finch has fallen to Hayden Walsh in all the innings (3) he has faced him so far in T20Is
  • When bowling first, Australia have taken the joint-most powerplay wickets in the year (22), but when bowling second they have the joint fewest (8)
  • Gayle is yet to be dismissed by Starc, Zampa or Maxwell in T20Is. He strikes at 233 against Maxwell and 256 against Zampa.
  • Quotes

    “West Indies is such a dangerous side. We saw that when we played them. Obviously with them being out of the competition now they’ve got nothing to lose, which can also be a really dangerous spot.”
    Aaron Finch

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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    Ind vs NZ 2nd Test Mumbai




    India Test captain expects meeting with head coach and selectors to provide clarity on certain aspects of team composition

    There will be no hurried calls taken on Ajinkya Rahane‘s future based on external pressure, India’s captain Virat Kohli said after India sealed their 14th consecutive Test series win at home. It was another dominant performance by India, but the lean patch for two of their senior batters, Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, remains a concern, especially at a time when new batters and coming in and putting performances that make it hard to drop them.
    Rahane now averages 24.39 over his last 16 Tests, including one century in the Boxing Day Test nearly a year ago. With scores of 35 and 4 in the last Test, his career average has now dipped below 40. At home he averages 35.73, which has come down to 30.08 over the last five years.
    Shreyas Iyer, who played in Kanpur in Kohli’s absence, scored a hundred and a fifty on debut. There was talk Mayank Agarwal might be made to step aside when Kohli came back for Mumbai, but Rahane’s hamstring injury made that decision easy. Agarwal then responded with a century and a fifty of his own on a difficult pitch. Coach Rahul Dravid called the situation a happy headache to have, but also said a big part of his challenge would be to help pick the best XI, especially in away Tests, which could involve “difficult decisions” along the way.

    Kohli, known to be ruthless and trigger-happy in the first half of his Test captaincy, has put a premium on the past performances of Rahane and Pujara, and said he would continue to do so.

    “I can’t judge Ajnkya’s form,” Kohli said. “Nobody can judge anybody’s form, for that matter. Because only an individual knows what part of his game he has to work on. But, as I have said in the past, it is important to back those players who have made impact performances in difficult situations and important Test matches in the past. We don’t entertain this kind of atmosphere in the team that a player starts worrying about ‘what next’ the moment he is under a little bit of pressure.

    “Yes, we can’t expect this kind of balance from those on the outside where those who are singing praises will be asking for a player’s head in two months. We don’t react that way ever nor will we do it in the future because we know how much effort and hard work goes in for any person to get into a positive mental space, and we will support it. Be it Ajinkya or whoever. We will never take decisions based on the outside atmosphere.”

    Kohli did, however, say important decisions could be made after discussions with Dravid and the selectors. “Those are discussions we are going to have now with the selectors,” he said. “It is a good headache to have but you always want clarity in these things. And understand that it is always great to know exactly what you want to do before you head into a series like South Africa. Those things are very important to address, and we are going to have discussions straight away when we get to the hotel now.”

    One of the things India were understood to be considering was dropping Shubman Gill down to the middle order to better utilise his full potential, but they couldn’t try that as KL Rahul didn’t recover from his injury in time for the New Zealand Tests. Now Iyer has made the middle-order an even more crowded place.

    Will they now try the switch in South Africa?

    “That’s a discussion that needs to take place: who we think are specialists in certain positions,” Kohli said. “These are not things I can sit here and answer in a press conference. You need discussions on these things, you need to analyse what is best for the team and the individuals as well, and come to a common conclusion.

    “More often than not, issues are discussed, and we come to a collective decision, which feels the most balanced. That’s the same process we are going to follow moving forward as well. It is upon lengthy discussions where everyone puts in their ideas.”

    Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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    Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Bangladesh 2nd Test 2021/22




    The weather, however, promises to be better on the fourth and fifth days, with no rain forecast

    The third day of the Dhaka Test lived up to its very rainy forecast with a full day washout. The covers never came off the Shere Bangla National Stadium, and Bangladesh and Pakistan players didn’t come to the ground, as the country’s capital bore the brunt of a depression at the Bay of Bengal.

    Play was called off at 2pm local time, a foregone conclusion, though it could have happened much earlier. Match officials usually cling on to the hope of rain relenting. Even in that case, it takes an hour to clear the water off the ground and the covers. None of that was required on Monday.

    The last time a full day’s play was lost in a Test in Bangladesh was in July-August 2015, when South Africa toured the country.

    Only 30 minutes of play was possible on the second day, when Pakistan resumed their first innings for just 6.2 overs. It was enough time for Azhar Ali to move from his overnight 39 to his 34th Test half-century and then to 52 not-out. Babar Azam struck a few boundaries to move to an unbeaten 71.

    Babar started the day with an easy boundary off Khaled Ahmed, before Azhar brought up the 100-run stand. He then struck two fours off Ebadot Hossain to reach his fifty, off 126 balls. The pair have so far added 118 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand.

    Earlier on the first day, visitors made an unsurprisingly strong start, with Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique adding 59 for the opening stand. It was Pakistan’s fourth successive 50-plus stand for the first wicket, equalling the same feat from 2002. Taijul Islam removed both Abid and Shafique, but Azhar and Babar remained solid.

    The weather, however, promises to be better on the fourth and fifth days. There is no more rain in forecast, but it might take a while for the ground staff to rid of the excess water even when the sun comes out.

    Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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    Kohli hails Agarwal's 'impact performance' and Siraj's 'skill'



    The captain discusses the performances of India’s young trio in Mumbai

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