Australia v New Zealand, World T20, Group 2, Dharamsala March 18, 2016

Smith urges sensible batting in middle overs

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Australia captain Steven Smith has pulled up his batsmen for the team's eight-run defeat to New Zealand.

Ahead of the opening match of their World Twenty20 campaign in Dharamsala, Smith had stressed the need for his players to bat smartly during the middle overs, to look for gaps and take the safer route to runs if the conditions did not warrant the going-for-broke approach.

Instead, after Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson made a brisk start against the new ball, Australia's batsmen did the exact opposite, losing their way against New Zealand's spinners and throwing away wickets trying to play the big shots.

"I think when the ball got a little bit older, it chewed up pretty quickly and as you could see there was quite a bit of spin," Smith said. "That's always difficult to play. Credit to the New Zealand bowlers, they got the ball in the right areas and made us play some pretty average shots.

"For us it is about finding a way between overs seven and 15, trying to build a few partnerships. It might not be about clearing the fence, it might be about getting a lot of singles, getting off strike, getting lots of twos, something that we haven't done so well and didn't do well again today."

Chasing New Zealand's seemingly modest total of 142, Australia were 50 for 1 after the first six overs but lost three wickets and added just 50 runs in the following nine.

Mitchell Santner and Ish Bodhi frustrated Australia's batmen with canny spin, Santner producing a ripping ball that foxed Smith into coming down the wicket only to see it turn sharply past his bat and Luke Ronchi whip off the bails.

But what will concern Australia is that most of their wickets came from players holing out while trying to clear the fence, their batsmen unable to adjust their approach when scoring became difficult. With their next match, against Bangladesh, just a few days away, they have little time to regroup.

"I think its just about going out there and making sure we learn from our mistakes in this game," Smith said. "I think the way we play, we can win and lose games in the 7-15 overs.

"I think we saw that in the games we played against South Africa. We batted really well in those periods and we were able to win games. So we need to adopt the same things here."

Australia's campaign may be off to a poor start, but Smith maintains his side is still confident of winning Australia's first World T20 trophy.

"I think everyone in this team has had success in this format. I guess you have to try and think back to those moments and think what you did well.

"We are in different conditions to (what) a lot of us have played. A lot of us have played in the IPL but you don't quite often see wickets that are spinning like this one. It's about finding ways to be successful and each individual to have a plan and stick to it as much as possible to make sure we get through those 7-15 overs because, if we do that, I'm confident we can win a lot of games."

Australia's bowlers generally bowled tightly and took regular wickets, although Ashton Agar's solitary over was one he will soon want to forget; it included three full tosses that were belted over the fence by Martin Guptill and he was immediately pulled from the attack. While the 18 runs conceded proved costly, Smith said that was not the deciding factor.

"Those things happen in the game," he said. "He didn't execute as well as he would have liked. That's the game of cricket, you can't put it down to that."

Adam Zampa fared better, conceding just three runs from his only over, but that was the only time his legspin was used, as Glenn Maxwell was preferred to the two front-line spinners on a low and slow track.

"I just thought today was the day that our quicker bowlers were going to do the job bowling the ball into the wicket and I think it worked. Restricting them to 142 was a very good effort. So I was very pleased with the way the guys did their job today.

"I think I probably would have used them (spinners) a little more if the batters that were in were the right ones. So I was happy with the way the guys did their job today."

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nbgmail on March 19, 2016, 22:38 GMT

    A lot of talk from MW in the Big bash commentary box regarding new faces, specialist T20 players. Seems to me its all the in crowd still.

  • Inferno792 on March 19, 2016, 12:44 GMT

    @Sunil_Batram, yes, I believe so too. When him and Marsh were batting, we looked in control to win the match. I believe he will succeed eventually though. Hope you're proved wrong on your assumption that he will be another one of those players who don't come anywhere near fulfilling their potential.

  • khandakh313 on March 19, 2016, 9:49 GMT

    Let Warner open with Khawaja, Watson at number 3 and yourself at number 4.....problem solved

  • Sunil_Batra on March 19, 2016, 9:23 GMT

    I think the point most people are overlooking is that we got within 9 runs of winning. If Maxwell had been there at the end we win, simple.I'm a big fan of his and, for a couple years, have been waiting for his reading of the situation and his ability to moderate his approach to mature as this would make him a certainty for the test team - but there's no sign of it. Yet anyway.I suspect that he will get swamped by the next generation of batsmen and pass into that world of "if only". Khawaja showed how to bat with proper batting shots and was the standout batsman and i hope now we can lock in khawaja, watson, smith, warner, maxwell as our top 5. Smith remains our best captain and i am sure we will come back stronger

  • din7 on March 19, 2016, 8:49 GMT

    aussies are well out of the tournament now leave alone winnin it, it was a match they shld have won....bowlin was their main problem but that came good and batters failed...hard to look beyond warner for that run out and smith for horrible shot of 1st ball he faced of santner and not bowlin zampa as culprits.....dont understand how do aussies worked it out...got 50 from36 balls leavin 92 from 84, what do u need is 5-6 rpo with boundery in between....and smith dances down the track facin 1st ball from santner knowin he was nz pick of bowlers the other night, knowin what he did to rohit sharma....and then warner gets khawaja runout knowin hes not that fast....not to forget maxwell knowin pich was tough to hit big needin 43 of 30 balls, all he had to do was play more sensibly but goes stupid loftin shot, time for him to learn somethin from gayle.... match lost which shld be won.....dont see them winnin against india....so pack ur bags aussies Bye Bye!

  • Cricinfouser on March 19, 2016, 8:33 GMT

    Attitudes let them down. ciaThis Format of Game. Predictions may go wrong. Any one on his day can Win. Let us say IT was NZ day. They look to be having better bowling attack. Pakistan also have best bowling attack. You cant under estimate Any one. Indian Pak match crucial . INDIA has upper hand. But they have to play with there heads Down. You cant afford to loose single Match, After 1 loss.

  • SaranRD on March 19, 2016, 8:26 GMT

    Watson is a waste player for Australia, he is playing one good innings out of 10. I can't understand what CA sees on him, such an useless batsman, He can play as a bowler as he's bowling really well.

  • din7 on March 19, 2016, 8:25 GMT

    undoubtedly Root is a jem of an cricketer...the best eng has produced since kp & cook, didnt think his battin was that suited to t20 format but how this guy has proven evry1 wrong......avg 55 in test, 44 in odis and now 39 in t20s @ strike rate of 140 is just amazing...! hes certainly found his roots to be a legend.........ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!

  •   Jono Makim on March 19, 2016, 7:58 GMT

    Too much experimentation with the line up and the various roles played, worst of all though is having two of the best in the world in their respective positions, Finch as opener and Faulkner as a a finisher not even given a chance to play the roles they have mastered, it is completely lamentable. Then throwing Agar in at the deep end when we have a guy like Maxi who has bowled time and again in powerplays. You know we have a pretty decent side here of guys who know their games and roles in the side but for some mysterious reason we've shuffled the deck chairs. It's like giving Angus Young a Cello and Ringo Starr a piano and asking them to bang out a duet of Katy Perry's 'Eye of the Tiger'. Having said that, NZ played very well and fully deserved their win.

  • Hrolf on March 19, 2016, 7:16 GMT

    I think Smith is wrong. I thought that the batsmen applied themselves as best as they could, but were simply not up to the task. Bowling Agar in the 3rd over and only using Zampa for one over was insane. Smith's logic is that he thought it was a 150 pitch and therefore it didn't matter that he could have restricted NZ further (no chance that his judgement was wrong). Seems to me that the Australian team has gone over with preconceptions and are refusing to adapt or learn no matter what the evidence otherwise. This is ongoing pattern every time that they have toured over the last 15 years. With Smith's comments I can't see Aus making it to the semis.

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