Cricket: Australia present a challenge

By David Leggat

Adam Voges and Steve Smith of Australia. Photo / Getty Images
Adam Voges and Steve Smith of Australia. Photo / Getty Images

The incentive is obvious; beat Australia in Dharamsala tonight and New Zealand are within grasping distance of securing a spot in the world T20 semifinals.

It would mean New Zealand would be two-from-two in the tougher of the two groups and needing one win from their last two games, against Pakistan and Bangladesh to make the last four.

But be very sure Australia, kicking off their campaign tonight, won't be fretting over the New Zealand challenge.

One thing about Australian cricket teams; their glass is always - at least - half full, never half empty. They view New Zealand as the smaller brother who gets a bit uppity from time to time, but who don't win when it really matters.

They point to last year's World Cup. New Zealand won a pool game thriller at Eden Park, but succumbed in the final in Melbourne.

New Zealand have won only three of 10 World Cup clashes. They'll need to be on top of their game against Australia.

The confidence taken from winning the Chappell Hadlee Trophy in February won't count for much in Australian eyes - different country, vastly different conditions - and remember this is the one international title Australia have yet to win.

New Zealand haven't either - then again, they don't have the welter of silverware from previous International Cricket Council events the Aussies do.

Several Australian batsmen have taken to using heavier bats, with the wood displacement lower, to aid clearing the boundaries. It helps the chances of a mis-hit still getting the job done.

Captain Steve Smith, allrounder James Faulkner and veteran Shane Watson are carrying heavier timber to the crease in a bid to counteract slower and lower pitches.

"My bats are a little bit heavier definitely in T20 cricket," Watson said. "They are a little bit heavier so when you swing hard, if I don't totally get it, there's a chance of it still going over the fence."

If Australia win, it will put three teams on two points each, and none of them the hosts, smarting over their crushing loss to New Zealand in Nagpur. If the anticipated rain arrives, the points will be split, an outcome Australia would certainly appreciate less than New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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