Australia ‘hoping that Bangladesh can get the job done’ for them

Australia

Australia’s bid to become the first team to hold the World Test Championship, 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup titles simultaneously is hanging by a thread, and relies on Bangladesh beating Afghanistan in St Vincent on Monday night. Even then, Bangladesh’s margin of victory cannot be too big – otherwise they will progress at Australia’s expense.

After five consecutive wins to start the tournament, Australia were beaten by Afghanistan on Saturday night and were then caught cold by India on Monday morning in St Lucia. They dragged things back after Rohit Sharma’s onslaught, but still fell short in their attempt to chase down 206, leaving Mitchell Marsh to simply joke: “Come on, Bangladesh.”

Travis Head, who top-scored in the run chase with 76, said the prospect of elimination felt “raw” immediately after the defeat, while Josh Hazlewood called it a “strange” feeling.

“You’ve got to wait until late tonight to find out,” Hazlewood said. “We obviously can’t do anything else than what we’ve done, and we’re hoping that Bangladesh can get the job done.”

Australia’s squad plans to watch the game together at their team hotel in Rodney Bay Marina, but face a long wait to find out their fate.

“It would be nice for it to start at 1pm, but 8.30pm is pretty late to sort of wait on pins and needles,” Hazlewood said. “I assume we’ll be pretty much together watching that game, and hoping for the best.”

It has been a sudden reversal for Australia at this World Cup: on Saturday afternoon, they looked well-placed to qualify for the semi-final but, 48 hours later are on the brink of elimination. They were the only team in the Super Eight phase to play a night match, travel the following day and then play a morning game, but refused to blame the schedule.

“We knew it was coming,” Head said. “Everyone did what they needed to do, and I think we played a very good cricket team today. I felt like we were pretty good for 90% of it. Seeing how the guys came out, the energy this morning, I don’t think you can look too much into it. It’s what it is. We knew it was coming, so you deal with it.”

However, Hazlewood did cite tight turnarounds as a contributing factor to Australia’s sloppy fielding. “The guys are always working as hard as ever on their fielding at training, but there might not be as many opportunities to work on it at these tournaments,” he said. “You’re always travelling and playing. But it hasn’t been good enough for the last few games in particular.”

Hazlewood also suggested that the breaks between Super Eight games could have been longer. “You could just balance them out with similar breaks. I can understand they want to create hype during the Super Eights and get a lot of games back-to-back,” he said. “It all comes to a head pretty quickly with a lot of eyes on it. But I think every tournament can be improved when you look back at it, so no doubt this one will be the same.”

He said that the prospect of a “cut-throat” elimination was simply the nature of T20 World Cups. “I remember the last two World Cups: we probably had one bad day in each one, and we won one and didn’t make the semis in the other. It’s pretty cut-throat. I definitely like the new format, how you get a bit more of a run at it. It’s not sudden-death straight off.

“I think it’s a first for me: maybe in an IPL, but never for international cricket”

Josh Hazlewood on relying on other teams for qualification

“But even South Africa, if they lost last night, they were out basically – so that could be how cut-throat it is. They win six games in a row, lose one and they’re out. I guess that’s the nature of T20 as well: you’ve got to be on your game every day that you turn up. It’s disappointing, but who knows what happens tonight?”

It is not uncommon in T20 leagues for teams to watch other matches knowing that they are relying on a certain result. Both Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell were part of the Royal Challengers Bengaluru squad in 2022 that qualified for the IPL knockouts, thanks to Tim David leading Mumbai Indians to a win which eliminated Delhi Capitals at RCB’s expense.

But Hazlewood said that it was not something he had experienced before while playing for Australia. “I think it’s a first for me: maybe in an IPL, but never for international cricket,” he said. “It’s a strange one.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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