Australia’s preparations for the T20 World Cup have taken another massive hit after they were totally outplayed by the West Indies, going down by 56 runs in St Lucia as Aaron Finch again failed with the bat.
It caps a horror weekend for Justin Langer’s men who now trail the five-game series 2-0 against the side ranked three spots below them on the ICC standings.
It’s easy to point to the fact that regulars Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins and Marcus Stoinis are all missing for the series, but that doesn’t excuse the poor execution with the ball and another reckless run chase.
Reeling in the target of 197 was always going to be a tall order, and the chase started disastrously when Matthew Wade was removed from the second ball of the innings.
It presented Finch with the perfect opportunity to be the hero, but the skipper’s lean run continued, bowled for six by a Fidel Edwards slower-ball full toss.
As if their capitulation the day before wasn’t bad enough, Australia crashed to an embarrassing defeat to West Indies 😳 https://t.co/uYmGBSiAqApic.twitter.com/41UkufKJyt
Finch had earlier been dropped at backward point on four – the same score he managed in game one – continuing his awful stretch of form that saw him average a paltry 13.77 in this season’s Big Bash League.
The captain had plenty of company in single figures on Sunday, with Australia’s struggles summed up by a horror mix-up that saw Ashton Agar run out.
While his teammates struggled, Mitch Marsh can hold his head high after he posted his second half-century of the weekend to give the Aussies a glimmer of hope before he holed out to Dwayne Bravo at long off on 54.
But even he struggled to clear the ropes, with Australia managing just two sixes compared to the hosts’ 13 as they used the wind to their advantage.
Wearing a hat, Chris Gayle put the visitors out of their misery when he cleaned up Josh Hazlewood in the final over.
The Australian team once again took a knee before the match in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)Source:AFP
Bowling strikes out
The match was in the balance when Marsh knocked over Gayle to reduce the hosts to 3/59, but a 103-run partnership for the fourth wicket turned the game on its head.
Shimron Hetmyer led the way with 61 off 36 deliveries and was ably supported by Dwayne Bravo (47* off 34), before Andre Russell (24* off 8) went ballistic at the end to push the score towards 200.
The Aussies had their chances, however, and will rue a couple of simple drops early in Bravo’s innings. Adam Zampa dropped a return catch when he was on two, Dan Christian then spilt a sitter in the deep, before Zampa returned the favour off the veteran’s bowling late in the innings.
It set the tone for what was a miserable night with the ball. Ashton Agar was solid with 1-28 from his four overs, but it was a different story for the quicks.
Josh Hazlewood couldn’t replicate his economic heroics from the first game, but that paled in comparison to Mitchell Starc (0-49) who went wicketless again and was belted to all parts of the ground.
Starc has all the weapons to be the best bowler on the planet, but sadly, he’s been firing blanks in 2021.
Zampa will kick himself for this miss. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)Source:AFP
Aussies “won’t make excuses”
Mitch Marsh believes Australia can fight back to win the T20 series against the West Indies despite falling behind 2-0 after a 56-run loss in St Lucia on Sunday.
Australia has looked rusty compared to the West Indies who are coming off two Tests and five T20s against South Africa on home soil.
The lack of cricket in recent months has exposed frailties in an already weakened squad, but history suggests the series is far from over given Australia fought back from an identical position to overcome India in the 50-over format two years ago.
“We won’t make excuses, but coming off three months with no cricket, it can at times take you a little bit to get going,” Marsh said.
“The West Indies have been playing a lot of cricket and they’re playing good cricket at the moment, but we certainly felt ready to go for this series.
“This Australian team was 2-0 down in India and won the series. We were 2-0 down in New Zealand and we got it back to 2-all. The Australian teams that we love (lift) when their backs are against the wall, so hopefully we come out and put in a great performance.”
Skipper Aaron Finch’s horror year with the bat continued, dismissed for just six after he was given a life on four.
Marsh, however, posted his second half-century in as many days as he continues to take advantage of a promotion up the order.
The veteran has made a name for himself as a finisher in the middle-order but is now an option to remain at three for this year’s T20 World Cup.
“There’s been no chat re the World Cup stuff at this point in time,” he said.
“As a young kid when you bat No.3, you probably see it is as a huge opportunity, but for me right now at this stage of my career, my focus is playing my role to the best of my ability for the team. At the moment that’s batting No.3.
“If that opportunity is still there in a couple of months, then so be it, but at this point in time, I really don’t want to be speaking too much about that stuff when we’re 0-2.
“Right now, the squad we have here, we’re all really clear on our roles and what we need to do. Ultimately, we’re just not executing them.
“The West Indies are a very good team, so when you don’t execute, you come up short. We’re all really clear on our roles and it’s still a great feeling in this team.”
The players might know their roles, but they are sorely missing the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell who would provide the stability and heavy scoring that has been lacking in the first two games.
Marsh isn’t using their absence as an excuse, and has full faith in the current squad to lift ahead of game three on Tuesday.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t (missing them), but that’s the situation we’re in at the moment,” he said.
“I’ve got full confidence in this team that we’ll be able to turn things around.”
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