Australia romped home to another victory against Bangladesh to snatch the top spot on the points table. David Warner fired to his sixth 150-plus score while Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja provided equal support to give their bowlers enough runs to battle against confident Bangladeshi line-up.
David Warner - the inflictor, the mason and the destructive spirit
‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’ The famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi stands true in David Warner’s case, where he remained unfazed by the booing and only got better with every game.
It has been a magnificent run for Warner since his return to the national side after serving a one-year ban for his involvement in the sandpaper gate scandal. The English crowd was always going to give him back but Warner has only got better and his apex spot in the list of top run-scorers in the tournament is a testament to it.
The southpaw’s approach has been different this tournament, where he has looked cautious at the start before cutting loose in the end. However, this innings from the southpaw was a total masterpiece. He didn’t endure a lot of dot deliveries and sculpted his innings artistically before unleashing a barrage of monstrous strokes eventually. Though Aaron Finch’s brisk innings gave enough breathing space initially, it was only about time when Warner shifted gears and made up for it.
Warner looked good to achieve his maiden double hundred but a loose stroke ended his innings, of course, how else would you get him out when he is batting with such flair? The only person that could have got the better of the left-hander was Warner himself. He looked unstoppable in the IPL and justified his inclusion straightaway into the playing XI with interest. All the gambles are paying for Australia and with the business end approaching; the team is only getting better.
Mushfiqur Rahim-Mahmudllah almost entwined Australia
The odds were against Bangladesh, they had to script history in order to win this game, which wasn’t to be. But they certainly gave Australia a scare. An early blow denied them from getting a brisk start but they did manage to get small partnerships in the middle; just when a batsman was all set to cut loose Australia managed to make a comeback.
After Liton Das’ fall, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur took charge and stitched a partnership that would infuse immense confidence in the games to come. Their 127-run stand from 97 deliveries helped them get close but the target was just too big and needed a cameo from someone at the start or in the middle. Nevertheless, Msuhfiqur and Mahmudullah were not ready to give up so easily and gave Australia a run for their money.
Mahmudulllah fired 69 off 50 deliveries while Mushfiqur remained unbeaten on 102 off 97 deliveries. The latter has looked in good touch this season and with Shakib and Tamim in good nick too, they’ll pose threats of a different kind in next few games. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the scenario of this game had been different had this target been somewhere close to 330-350 mark and also by looking at the form Bangladesh have been in recently.
Bangladesh are still placed at the fifth spot on the points table and have two big teams to play in their next three fixtures. One cannot deny the fact that if they continue to play in this manner, they will be a tough nut to crack for Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially the veterans.
The Khawaja-Smith conundrum
It’s a healthy headache to have but might get ugly once they make it to the knock-out stages. The left-hander shouldered the onus of scoring runs with perfection in the absence of Smith and Warner but he did that while batting up the order. However, barring the game against Bangladesh today, Khawaja has not really fired at the said position in four innings.
Smith, on the other hand, has more often than not, found success at three and four. The problem here is , none of the batsmen have managed to find success the moment there is a partnership at the top and demands the one batting at four or five to attack from the word go.
In the first two games, Khawaja batted at three but failed while Smith scored a tenacious 73 against West Indies and weathered the storm at four in the second game. In the third game against India, Smith once again ticked the box with a 69 at three while Khawaja had some success four with a brisk 42.
Come Pakistan, Australia gambled with Smith at three and one failure again cost him his spot in the next game against Sri Lanka, where he batted at four and steadied the ship with a fighting 73. A solid platform against Pakistan meant Khawaja at six, where he struggled and didn’t do anything of substance against Sri Lanka either.
Against Bangladesh, Khawaja justified his spot with a good one but once again, Smith struggled to milk runs lower down the order. Australia need to address this issue as both the players are important, but whose contribution is decisive is what they have to figure out. With Australia having power-hitters at five, six and seven, a steady start always makes way for them, which makes batting for Smith and Khawaja difficult in the middle-order, especially for the southpaw.
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