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Mohammad Isam in Dhaka
March 27, 2014
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has admitted Australia are unlikely to get a second chance to stay in contention for the semi-finals if they lose to West Indies on Friday. Australia lost their opening game to Pakistan, and their opponents on Friday have one win and a defeat. Australia will require an overall improvement in their game to rise above their current fourth spot in Group 2.
"Sometimes that can relieve the pressure because you know where you stand now," Haddin said. "There is no second chance for us. We have got to make sure that we bring our A game and deliver under pressure. We have done that well over the last four months and I see no reason why we can't continue with that."
West Indies, according to Haddin, are one of the leading T20 teams in the world and pose a major threat. Both teams have five wins each from ten T20 games so far and are also locked at two wins each against one another in World T20s, although West Indies have won their last two encounters against Australia.
"West Indies have embraced T20 cricket as well as anyone else in the world," Haddin said. "They have got their own competition now in the Caribbean and they were the winners of this tournament the last time.
"From that point of view they have got a pretty good understanding of how to play this format. I think these wickets are very similar to what they have at home. They have got a pretty good idea of the way they want to play."
One of Australia's chief concerns is Chris Gayle, who is West Indies' highest T20 run-scorer against Australia with 246 runs at a strike rate of 161.84 with three fifties. Australia are unlikely to forget the mauling they received at Gayle's hands in 2009 and 2012. In 2009, he slammed a 50-ball 88 to help West Indies chase down 170 with seven wickets and more than four overs to spare. In the semi-final in 2012, his unbeaten 75 off 41 balls helped West Indies score an imposing 205, after which they dismissed Australia for 131.
Gayle has had a quiet tournament so far, scoring 82 runs at a strike rate of 101.23 against India and Bangladesh but Haddin said Australia would breathe easy if they could get the left-handed batsman out early.
"I think we have seen over T20 cricket for a long time that Chris Gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen along with Shane Watson in this form of the game," he said. The earlier you get guys like that, the longer you go in terms of winning the game. It's important that we get him early and it's no different with any stroke-maker with that sort of power in the batting line-up."
Haddin, however, could not state whether Australia would field Brad Hogg or the 20-year-old legspinner James Muirhead against West Indies. With Gayle the only left-hander in West Indies' top-order, Australia may be be tempted to give the rookie a go. So far, Amit Mishra, Samuel Badree and Imran Tahir have shown how effective legspin can be in differing conditions in Dhaka and Chittagong.
"That could be a good debate for the selectors to have. Probably Hoggy too [has a chance to play] as he can bowl a good wrong-one and he has been lethal for a long time against the right-handers," Haddin said. "That is something the selectors will have to work out. Young Muirhead has got a very big leggie and he does enjoy bowling to right-handers. It will be interesting to see what they come up with because anyone can play.
"I think wrist spinners are dangerous in any format. Conditions have ensured that the real wrist spinners have been very effective in this tournament. They are an asset to have in your team especially in T20 cricket when they turn the ball big and the batsmen are going hard."
The final piece of good news for Australia is that James Faulkner is likely to play which, given the allrounder's recent form, is a big boost. Haddin feels that Faulkner's return will give George Bailey a few more options in crucial situations.
"James can bat from No 6 down and he can cover all bases as he is pretty reasonable with the bat in this format," he said. "He is a big asset to us with his bowling with the way he can jam in the yorker and close out the back end of a T20 game. He's a guy who likes winning and is a huge competitor and the sort of guy you would like in your team."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala