With Australia one victory away from its maiden Twenty20 World Cup title, coach Justin Langer believes the team’s poor build-up to the showpiece tournament was not so poor after all.
Australia lost five consecutive Twenty20 series in its lead-up, including in the West Indies and Bangladesh where it fielded depleted squad as several frontline players sat out. Few gave them a chance in the World Cup but Aaron Finch’s men wriggled into the last four and stunned Pakistan, the tournament’s only team with an unblemished Super 12 record, in Thursday’s dramatic semifinal.
“There was reason why our form on the surface wasn’t as we would have liked,” Langer told a news conference on Friday.
“We had a lot of great faith in the squad, a lot of great faith in the preparation we had. The tours to West Indies and Bangladesh…was brilliant for the depth of our squad and for Australian cricket.”
Langer said quick Josh Hazlewood got invaluable match practice on the tours, while all-rounder Mitchell Marsh used them to break into the World Cup squad and has since been a key player for them. “It’s more fun winning than losing, I promise, but in the big scheme of things, it’s about this World Cup tournament, so far the pieces of the puzzle are fitting together quite nicely,” Langer said.
Australia will meet trans-Tasman rival New Zealand in Sunday’s final in Dubai where teams chasing under the lights have enjoyed a clear advantage. Winning the toss has become more crucial than ever at the venue but Australia would push for victory irrespective of whether chasing or setting a target, the coach said.
“Look, you can’t deny the statistics, no question about that,” explained the former Test player.
“It’s very important that we have the mindset, whether we bat first or bowl first, that we can win from any situation. That mindset is going to be important.”
Rematch of 2015 WC final
Sunday’s clash will be a rematch of the final of the 2015 ODI World Cup which Australia comprehensively won.
New Zealand, the reigning world Test champion, has since established itself as a top multi-format side and Langer said Australia had utmost respect for its rival. “I think the way New Zealand cricket have gone about their business for the last few years has been outstanding,” the 50-year-old said.
“They’re really a good bunch of blokes. They get on with the job and they get it done. So we’re going to have to be at our best, like we have been throughout this tournament, to beat New Zealand.”