Following his team's thrilling one-run victory against Pakistan in the final ODI in Abu Dhabi, Australia captain George Bailey said that although his team didn't play their best cricket during the 3-0 sweep of Pakistan, the experience of crunch games would hold them in good stead during the World Cup.
Australia, who had already bagged the series in the second ODI, made a strong start in the final game in Abu Dhabi but were limited to 231 for 9. Australia's bowlers, however, turned the match around, capitalising on Pakistan's brittle batting - the hosts needed two runs off the last over but a double-wicket maiden from Glenn Maxwell ensured a win for Australia.
"To be honest, I don't think we played our best cricket over here, appreciating the conditions are different and challenging and we worked hard to prepare for those," Bailey said. "The most pleasing thing, for my part, was the fact that we had to battle in every game. Not everything went our way and there weren't scores of 300, to see our energy and fight and intent to get through difficult phases, and absorb the pressure Pakistan were putting and throw it back on them - I think that was more pleasing.
"I think that's the sort of stuff that will happen in World Cups in games that come to the crunch point and then you will have to absorb pressure and stand up and guys will have to deliver match-winning performances. So the more you can find ways to win games like we did tonight, that holds you down the road. But ideally, we are looking to play better cricket as a team."
Bailey said his decision of bowling out fast bowlers Kane Richardson, Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner going into the final few overs of the game was a risk but said he had done so to get the team back into the contest.
"The dream scenario is knocking them over in the 42nd over. In my book, it was pretty stressful," he said. "The position we were in, I felt that unless we got our quicks in and got some wickets and got ourselves back in the game, then they were going to win the game in the 46th-47th over and that was about where the spin was going to come back into play. In some ways, it's a risk but we had to try and get back into the game."
Bailey also backed Steven Smith's unusual catch to dismiss Fawad Alam. The Pakistan batsman tried to play a sweep against Xavier Doherty but Smith saw the batsman's movement early and ran from first slip towards leg slip before Alam could make contact with the ball. The catch was deemed legal as a change in playing conditions allowed a fielder to make a move in response to a batsman's actions. Bailey said Australia were aware of the new rule and said such changes were good for the game.
"We didn't talk about that before the game but I am aware the rule has changed and it should. As a batsman, you are allowed to switch-hit or do whatever you like," he said. "All he's done is anticipate where the ball is going to go. As a cricket lover, you're just moving well in the field and that's no different to if you're fielding at point you see that someone's about to drop the ball and you're moving in quicker. So I think I'd be really sad if that went out of the game because that's a spectacle. I could see there was confusion because the umpires had come together but we knew the rule had changed."