Australia v WI, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 28, 2014

Australia fail to walk the talk

This is not the first Australian team to put down a few catches. Nor is it the first one to struggle against spin. Australian teams, however, do not usually lose a Twenty20 when they need 66 from 51 with eight wickets in hand. Having done that, they then don't end up losing a close game where they have had a go at the opposition with typical pre-match banter. That too in a world tournament.

Against both Pakistan and West Indies, Australia were arguably in winning positions, more so against the former. When it came to the decisive stages of both matches, however, their personnel let them down. Against Pakistan, it was the batsmen who choked, collapsing from a strong position. Against West Indies, it was the bowlers who lost their lines and lengths under pressure from Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo. With 42 needed off the final three overs, and 31 off the last two, there would have had to be equal, if not more, pressure on the batting side specially in a must-win situation for both teams. The way Mitchell Starc crumbled in the penultimate over certainly did not exert any pressure on the West Indies pair.

George Bailey, however, did not think their bowling tonight was the major cause for pushing Australia to the brink of an exit from the tournament. The Australia captain said that the side had not cut it in all three disciplines.

"Your mind tends to track back to the most recent thing, the bowling. But once again I don't think we batted particularly well," Bailey said. "All of the top six probably played pretty ordinary shots or shots at inappropriate times, so I think [the fact] that we scraped to 178 was pleasing given that we didn't bat particularly well.

"And again we probably let ourselves down in the field with some chances and that comes back to bite harder in T20 than in any other format; the repercussions are so immediate. I am sure there are things we would like to do differently in bowling and the guys would like to have their overs again and do something different. But you cannot lay the blame just on the bowlers. All three disciplines were not up to the standards that we set."

Bailey did not think there were any issues with the balance of the team combination, and said it wasn't that Australia had suffered heavy defeats.

"We have lost two games, but it's not like we have been knocked over for 120 in each game," he said. "We haven't batted very well, and we have scored a 180 and whatever we scored the other night. It's not a glaring weakness. It's the same with bowling and I'd say the same about our fielding. We have just lost two close games in a tournament where you cannot afford to do that."

You can say that as much as it was about Australia succumbing at the climax, it was also about Pakistan and West Indies doing the exact opposite. They thrived at the death and outplayed Australia. That is what is glaring about these two losses. Australia knew they could not afford to go down, they had their chances, but they failed to take them. The West Indies loss will hurt them more, for what James Faulkner said before the game, and for how West Indies responded to it - by winning a sharp contest and with their in-your-face celebrations targeted at the Australians.

"Talk is cheap," Sammy said. "Cricket is a game of action, you can talk all you want, but it is the action that matters. West Indies acted today."

The Australians talk a lot, of course, but it is only rarely that they fail to walk it. Bailey and his men will be smarting, but unfortunately for them, their chances of hitting back in this tournament are all but over.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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