Australia slide below Ireland in T20 rankings
Australia's captain George Bailey has conceded it does not look good for his team to have slipped below Ireland in the ICC's Twenty20 rankings ahead of the World T20 later this month. Australia dropped to tenth on the rankings after their Super Over loss to Pakistan in Dubai on Friday, and it was far from the ideal situation less than two weeks before their World T20 opener - against Ireland.
However, the T20 rankings points are accumulated from such a small pool of matches that it is difficult to read too much into them. In the current rankings period, which began on August 1, 2010, Australia have won only four of their 13 games, which have all come against South Africa, Pakistan, England, India, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
By comparison, Ireland have won eight of 11, but all of their victories have come against Associate nations: Kenya, Scotland, Canada, Netherlands and Afghanistan. The only matches they have played against full ICC members came during a three-match series against Bangladesh in July - and Ireland lost all three games. Similarly, six of the eight games Bangladesh (who are ranked eighth) have played in that time have been against Associates.
"It doesn't look very good," Bailey told reporters in Dubai after Australia's loss on Friday. "I'm still not sure how the rankings work. So Ireland go past us tonight. I'm not sure if we've ever played Ireland in a T20. Make of that what you will. If Ireland are a better side than us I guess they'll show it in a couple of weeks in Sri Lanka."
Rankings aside, Australia have several things to work on ahead of the World T20, including settling on their best combination. Mitchell Starc was impressive in the second match having been left out of the first game and Bailey's own T20 form with the bat took an encouraging turn with his brisk 42 from 27 balls, which nearly got the Australians home.
David Warner and Shane Watson also provided a solid start with their 40-run opening stand from less than five overs, and similar efforts will be essential in Sri Lanka. Bailey said despite the loss there were plenty of positives for Australia to take from Friday's game, especially after they were bowled out for 89 in the first match two days earlier.
"I'm really pleased we performed much closer to what I think we're capable of," Bailey said. "I think we can take a lot of confidence out of it as a team, I think individually we'll take a lot of confidence out of it. But to be so close and then to lose leaves a lot of questions in your head.
"We've got a lot to get out of [the third game on Monday]. Full credit to Pakistan, I think they've played two excellent games and certainly deserve to have won the series. But we've got a lot to play for. It's the bigger picture, we all know what's coming up. As a group, individually I still think there's plenty to play for."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here