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March 29, 2014
Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, has said his team had to develop better situation awareness in the shortest format, an aspect that was missing from their first two games in the World T20, against Pakistan and West Indies. Australia have two losses in as many games and must win their last two matches, including one against India on Sunday, and hope Bangladesh beat Pakistan to have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
"I think we under-clubbed with the bat in both games to be perfectly honest," Lehmann said. "I think we needed 75 off ten [overs] in the first game with eight wickets in hand. And our match awareness has got to improve in this format. Again we got 178 [against West Indies] and we didn't bat very well. Our top six have got to take the shoulder of that, especially the times they got out, more so than anything else. The last couple of balls off [Sunil] Narine's over, those sort of things they've got to get better at. That's about learning, but in this tournament, this format you can't afford to learn, you've got to win."
Lehmann was also disappointed with the way Australia had let themselves slip from strong positions against both Pakistan and West Indies, which had all but put them out of the World T20.
"We beat ourselves in these games. It's as simple as that. Obviously credit to West Indies and Pakistan but we should've won both of those games. We've got only ourselves to blame.
"We had played pretty good T20 cricket at home and then in South Africa just before we came here. We were probably 70% in all three formats and it's a good learning curve. But, as I said, you've got to win those games. We have got to be on the mark each and every time, especially in this knock-out format. You find out about some players in pressure situations, which is good and bad for a coach and a captain. At least we learned."
Lehmann also said that allrounder James Faulkner would need to be wiser about the words he chose while bantering with the opposition. Before the match against West Indies, Faulkner's comment that he did not particularly like the team brought out an aggressive, in-your-face celebration from Darren Sammy's men after their tense victory on Friday. Lehmann also did not approve of West Indies' wild celebrations, saying it was not something Australia would have done.
"From my point of view, James has probably got to choose his words a little bit better but that's just part and parcel of the banter of the game, isn't it? We're in the entertainment business and if I could dance like Chris Gayle I'd be dancing every night of the week," Lehmann said. "We play our cricket hard and verbally that's what is going to happen. But we play it fair. That's just part and parcel. You live and die by the sword, don't you? You win, you lose, you've just got to cop it and move on.
"At the end of the day, you're going to get emotional with winning. We've certainly been through those stages but we're really respectful of that as well. When you win, you've got to win in the right way and act appropriately. If that's the way they do that, that's fine. That's not our choice. That's certainly not what we do. They certainly dance very well though, I'll give them that."
Australia have lost wickets to spin in both games so far, but Lehmann did not think this was a weakness. When asked about the challenge the Indian spinners would present in their next group game, he said the experience of an ODI series in India last year would help.
"[It's] not a weakness, because certainly spinners didn't get us out, we got ourselves out. So we've got some work to do in that area, but that's like every area: fast bowling, playing short-pitched bowling. It's no different. The wickets certainly haven't spun as much as we thought, so that's no excuse for our batters.
"We're lucky enough that we've played some decent one-day cricket against India, in India, not too long ago in October. So we know them very well, and they know us very well. It's going to be a great challenge for our batters and bowlers to put a complete performance together. If we do that, we can compete with anyone in the world."
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