Bailey floored by heavy defeat
Australia's captain George Bailey has admitted his side stands no chance of winning the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka if their performances mirror a shattering first-up loss to Pakistan in the series in Dubai.
The seven-wicket hiding was Australia's heaviest in terms of balls to spare for the chasing team, after Bailey's men were shot out for a measly 89, their lowest total since England rolled Ricky Ponting's team for 79 in only their second T20I, at the Rose Bowl in 2005.
What's more, the Australians can now slip to 10th in the ICC's T20 rankings before the global event begins. Should Pakistan sweep the series - a possibility given the lopsidedness of the opening match - then Bailey's team will line-up for their tournament opener ranked below their opponents Ireland.
"I'm very disappointed and there's plenty to go away and work on," Bailey said. "You don't ever want to be setting those sorts of records. But in terms of the group we've got together and what we're capable of, it certainly hasn't altered my thoughts that we can still be a very good team.
"I still think we can win it. Definitely. Absolutely. I certainly don't think we'd win if we played like we did today. It's hopefully just a bad performance and one that you won't see again. Even if we gained a tiny bit of momentum, we gave it back by losing a wicket."
The poverty of Australia's batting was stark, unable to hit a six in the innings and striking only three boundaries. Bailey agreed that the top five had to do far, far better in future and put the match down as an experience that had to be learned from, particularly given the sorts of slow, spinning pitches also likely to be seen in the World T20 in Sri Lanka.
"Twenty20, all the stats we look at, you want your top four or five batsmen batting most of the innings," Bailey said. "So to be four down at the seven or eight over mark, we were certainly behind the game. We learned a lot about the wicket, but we already knew that Pakistan were going to be very competitive in this format, and that played very well."
Despite all players having taken part in the pre-season camp in Darwin where spin was a major consideration, and most then having the benefit of the ODI series against Pakistan in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, Australia's efforts against the spinners were particularly poor. Bailey admitted improvements had to be made to what he described as a "real key" to the team's chances.
"The spinners are outstanding, and on the back of the one-day tournament the spinners were certainly the key to their bowling and our quicks were probably the key to ours," he said. "So it's a work in progress, it's going to be a real key the way we play spin and the way we play spin heading into the World Cup too, so we're working on it.
"In terms of the World Cup there's no better practice than playing against the world class spinners that Pakistan have in these three games."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here