South Africa v Australia, 1st T20, Durban March 4, 2016

'No secret teams target us with spin' - Finch

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'We were outplayed in the middle overs' - Finch

Australia's approach to spin will have to turn around if want to improve their chances of success at the World T20, according to Aaron Finch. The opening batsman, who top-scored with 40 in their losing cause against South Africa in Durban, identified spin as the main threat to their line-up after Imran Tahir took 3 for 21 against them in the opening match.

"It's no secret that teams are targeting us with spin and rightfully so. We haven't played it all that well over the last little while in the shortest format," Finch said. "India took a lot of wickets with spin and today Imran was all over us. It's something we are going to have look to change our plans. The guys are quality players of spin. It's just about changing our mindsets slightly if we do have a few dot balls."

Australia had been going well, at 71 for 2 at the start of the eighth over, but Tahir struck with his first ball. Finch holed out to a full toss and was disappointed in both his state of mind and his shot selection to a spinner that demanded more respect. "There were some times when our ego took over," Finch said. "When you are playing against a quality spinner on a wicket that suits him, you have to be a little smarter, myself included. If I hit that full toss for six, it could have been a different scenario."

South Africa actually presented Australia with two spin challenges in their innings, the first of which they passed. JP Duminy was tasked with bowling in the Powerplay and Finch was merciless. He took 24 runs off Duminy's only over and admitted that was part of a plan. "You look to target guys," Finch said. "It's such a hard gig for an offspinner and with guys who don't spin the ball both ways, it's probably even more challenging. We were only one down at the time and it felt right to try and take it on a bit."

But Finch admitted that his efforts were not enough. "I didn't go on and get a matchwinning score like David Miller who got 50 not out and won the game," he said.

Tahir went on to remove Peter Nevill and John Hastings, after South Africa's other bowlers dismantled the Australia middle order. Between the sixth and 16th over, South Africa took 6 for 45 and in so doing, ensured Australia could not get close to the score of around 200 they seemed headed for after a quick start. "That's where they totally outplayed us in the game," Finch said.

Australia could plug the gap by bringing in someone with more experience at the top, like Shane Watson. Selector Mark Waugh said Australia would aim to give every player in their squad two matches during this series as they try to discover their best XI ahead of the World T20 and Watson, who left the Pakistan Super League with an abdominal injury last month, is expected to play on Sunday.

"He would have played today except he had a stomach strain so we just wanted to make sure that he was fully fit. He'll play in the last two games," Waugh said while commentating. "We're probably going to give everybody two games out of three matches so we can have a look at them and give them some game time in the middle.

"We've played very little T20 cricket so everyone will get a game. Watson's bowling has been very good the last three or four months. In the Big Bash he bowled well and then for Australia in the T20s against India - he was actually our best bowler. He presents the seam beautifully and he's a bit deceptive when he hits the deck hard."

Finch described Watson as the "ultimate T20 player" but his inclusion may mean Finch's own place is in doubt. "Shane brings a lot of experience, a lot of power in batting, bowling, fielding," Finch said. "He has made hundreds, he has taken wickets, he is a brilliant player. Guys will probably get shuffled around a little and everyone is open to that. My job as an opener is to go out there and try and get as off to a flier and try and set up the game and push through and get a bigger score than 40. If I am are under pressure [for my spot], it just adds to a bit of fun."

At least in the other discipline, Australia could be less critical. They broke through South Africa's top order to show their potential to be dangerous with the ball. "Our last three games against India, we struggled to get wickets at all, let alone at the top of the innings and to be able to knock over a couple early was a real positive," Finch said. "It allowed us to get into that middle order." Now they just need to find someone who can mow through that as well.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beertjie on March 6, 2016, 9:07 GMT

    Well if everyone gets 2 games a possible team may be Finch, Warner, Watson, Smith, Maxwell, Marsh, Faulkner, Agar, Nevill, Hastings, Coulter-Nile. For the following game: Finch, Warner, Watson, Khawaja, Marsh, Faulkner, Nevill, Coulter-Nile, Agar, Zampa, Tye,

  • 9971 on March 5, 2016, 16:05 GMT

    Finch has been pretty consistent in t20s.I wouldn't play khawaja. I mean your established openers are in form and then there is also the case of Watson All these three are better than khawaja. No wonder Australia is useless in this format but they cover it up by saying they are not interested in 20-20.

  • potter22in on March 5, 2016, 13:52 GMT

    Finch has hit the bull's eye with this observation or the strategy. The Aussie batsmen have to take a calculated assault on the weak bowler and have wickets in hand to enforce in the last 5 overs.Similarly, Aussies have been lacking a strike spin bowler. That will be the weakness in their composition for T20 as they will be missing the No 1 short format bowler in Starc and the fast strike bowler in Mitch who has retired.That too they are in the toughest group comprising the hosts India, New Zealand, and most likely Bangladesh as the qualifying team. The weakest team in the group as of now looks Pakistan as their top order batsmen are out of form and they lack a strike spinner like Ajmal and Yasir Shah is not available. Aussies should use their underdogs status and do well and take each game as knock out.

  • RR22 on March 5, 2016, 13:31 GMT

    Seems like an eternity ago that Watson and Katich were in a purple patch as openers. Then the Oz selecters (and Clarke?) dropped Katich because they wanted to promote talented youth ahead of the ashes. The openers failed & England won easily. Now everyone knows how destructive Warner and Finch are in the power play overs. So I'm ok with droping Finch and testing Warner when there are more fielders in the deep. C'mon India & thank you to the Aust off-field brains trust.

  • Anand Babu on March 5, 2016, 12:22 GMT

    Dont tell me australia never taken t20 seriously... Bcz of that reason they had bbl, made flat pitches for india series as a practice to indian conditions.. They r trying hard not getting it..

  • ABP235 on March 5, 2016, 11:42 GMT

    All will be resolved if and when Aussies have Watto open the innings or bat at No.3 - he knows to adapt to all types of bowlers - fast, slow, spin. His experience playing IPL helps him in this. Batsmen need to remember that the spinners, when they get an early wicket, they are different type of bowlers altogether (I have been one, and I am sharing my experience - I have either taken 3-5 wickets or nothing). So, the key is not 'gifting' your wickets. Need to be cautiously aggressive, need to be unorthodox but less risky. Imran Tahir is a very good bowler and an exception that he does not get bogged down by just one over that goes for many. So, it is better to milk him for 5-6 runs, an occasional boundary, but not go for big sixes, even off loose deliveries (I dont think there are loose deliveries in T20 by the way - every ball that gets a wicket or gives one or no run is a good delivery, every ball that is hit for 4 or 6 is bad as a post mortem analyst puts it).

  • ABDVfan on March 5, 2016, 10:44 GMT

    Hope faulkner and watson return to the side ,they will render better balance to the team ..imo the playing 11 for the next t20 z:warner,finch,khwaja,smith,watson,maxwell,marsh,faulkner,neville,coulter nile,zampa , very intimidating batting line up ..tye will give runs anyways ,so its better to bolster aussie's strength i.e. Batting and hope to bat out anyone,still have 6 genuine bowling options. This batting line up will provide a cracker of entertainment if they bat first

  • hycIass on March 5, 2016, 10:42 GMT

    Drop Tye, recall Faulkner. Watson and Khawaja to open (Khawaja averaged near 200 this summer for the Thunder so he is a must at the top). Warner at 3 (depending on who gets out first), Smith at 4. Just goes to show how much we lose when Faulkner's out of form. It means we have to play Nevill (although in all seriousness he should probably bat 11 in this side) or a lesser bowling allrounder at 7, and not much at 8. 1. Watson 2. Khawaja 3. Warner 4. Smith 5. Maxwell 6. M. Marsh 7. Faulkner 8. Hastings 9. Zampa 10. Coulter-Nile 11. Nevill

  • Sunil_Batra on March 5, 2016, 10:35 GMT

    @jono khawaja is opening the batting because he averaged 175 in bbl this year with a strike rate of near 200. And we need the middle order to be stronger and warner fits in there perfectly as he did for Hyderabad. I am expecting big things from Smith and Khawaja in the coming games. Maxwell and Tye got pounded, so if you bring in Watson for Tye you have an experienced frugal bowler and a good hitting option to strengthen the batting. Hopefully Maxwell won't be needed / can bowl a little tighter. Good squad!

  • niazbhi on March 5, 2016, 10:28 GMT

    Australia provides highest number of foreign IPL players, Can you imagine a team with 3 allrounders Faulkner, Watson and Marsh? batsmen like Finch, Warner and Maxwell. Smith and Khawja have sheer talent (I am not sure whether they would get accustomed before WT20I, if they are in the team they would be great great players in the long run). Australia does not have a great spinner and key fast bowlers (like Styen, Pattinson, Anderson) are not much threat in T20Is anymore. Its Amirs hard to deal with swing, angle and bowling stride, its Mustafiz's hard to read slower offcutters, Nehera's guile that seems to be more effective. Australia have three pretty good weapons in Watson, Faulkner and Marsh. So they will be one of the top teams along with india, and WI. Abbott, Rabda, Tahir must do well for SA to shine, Pattinson and Hazlewood may fail, australia had insurance policy in Watson, Faulkner and Marsh.. very very deep team.

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