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All hope not yet lost, but Australia have their backs against the wall

After losing T20I series to Bangladesh and WI earlier this year, Australia now need to beat both teams

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Justin Langer's expression tells thing are not going Australia's way, Australia vs England, T20 World Cup, Group 1, Dubai, October 30, 2021

Justin Langer's expressions displayed how Australia's game against England went  •  ICC/Getty Images

What a difference a day makes. Such was the brutality of the defeat handed out to Australia by England that they have gone from being strongly placed to secure a semi-final slot to not even knowing if two wins in their last two matches will now be enough.
If Justin Langer and Aaron Finch had thought that emerging from an unconvincing build-up to the tournament with the wins over South Africa (scrappy) and Sri Lanka (convincing) would alter narratives, then it's been a rude awakening.
Social media has been lively. Shane Warne said Steven Smith shouldn't be in the T20 side before the game. After then expressing his bemusement at how Liam Livingstone was allowed to bowl four overs for 15, he later added: "Australia need to change their thinking re style of play plus the team."
Elsewhere there were top-orders being selected that had little resemblance to the one that played last night. It was a very good few hours not to be in the team. A lot of it is very valid. Australia's relationship with T20 cricket has rarely been anything but awkward. For a nation of such rich cricketing success, to be left referencing an appearance in the 2010 final and a brief spell at No. 1 in the rankings last year is slim pickings.
But they aren't done yet for this tournament so the full post-mortem needs to wait a little longer. Two wins will take them into the semi-finals unless England slip up. However, if it does prove to be a group exit then the assessments and questions need to be as brutal as Jos Buttler's innings. A semi-final might keep the wolf from the door, but that may not be a good thing - England's evolution into a white-ball powerhouse happened when they were embarrassed into change after the 2015 World Cup. It would take a brave person to pick Australia as a winner although stranger things have happened.
"If you went back to previous T20 World Cups and teams being in this position then getting their way out of it, it's definitely happened before and we have a really quality team," Adam Zampa said. "The result could have been different last night. Think you would have seen our quicks get a similar amount of movement out of that wicket, but they exposed us really well with the new ball. It was a pretty clinical win from England.
"We'll move on pretty quickly, we know the pressure is on us now, our run-rate has taken a hit so winning the next two games is really important but the next moment is more important than anything else so we'll concentrate on Bangladesh."
Australia have seen plenty in recent times of Bangladesh and West Indies, falling to 4-1 series defeats against both earlier this year with a team that was significantly different to the one at this tournament particularly in the batting. If West Indies build on their narrow win over Bangladesh which kept their chances alive, there is a scenario where the Australia match is a decider.
In terms of the low-scoring scrap that played out in Bangladesh during August, where 120 was a huge total, Zampa did not believe much can be read into it. "The wicket in Dhaka was probably one the worst international wickets we've come up against, particularly in my time. Don't think we'll see a wicket that bad over here," he said.
"We are pretty wary of what they can do, they have some really good young players and some great experience with guys like Shakib who can win a game off his own bat. We'll use whatever intel we have from the last series but this game will be a different look. If we go and play really well against Bangladesh we've won three out of four games going into the last one with some confidence again."
Tactically, we have now seen the two team make-ups Australia have: the choice between four and five specialist bowlers. Having gone batter-heavy in the two wins, Ashton Agar replaced Mitchell Marsh against England. It's debatable whether having Marsh would have made a difference - Chris Woakes would have troubled anyone - although an extra batter might have given Aaron Finch more confidence to try and hit his way out of the hole.
Now do they stick or twist again? Once Covid-19 had ripped up some best-laid plans of building towards a home World Cup (which will now be next year) there has been an element of hoping it will be alright on the night. For a couple of games it appeared as though it could come together. There's a chance it still can, but they can't afford another night like they've just had.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo