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Langer admits in-form Australia will need 'nerves of steel' to ace chases in knockouts

Head coach says the extra batter in the side allows them to "back ourselves to chase anything"

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Australia have slain some of their demons in the ongoing T20 World Cup, having produced four successful chases to reach the semi-finals, but coach Justin Langer believes it will take "nerves of steel" to chase in a knockout game.
Australia qualified for Thursday's semi-final in Dubai on the back of a successful chase against West Indies in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and are likely to face Pakistan in the knockouts for a place in the final.
The tournament has been dominated by the chasing teams, particularly in Dubai where nine of the 10 matches have been won by the chasing teams, with New Zealand the only side to win batting first, in a day match against Scotland.
Australia lost their only match of the tournament when they were sent in by England under lights in Dubai and slumped to 21 for 4. But as good as Australia have been chasing, and as dominant as the chasing teams have been overall, Langer was wary of the pressure that comes with runs on the board in a knockout final.
"Most teams are winning chasing and you saw with a set-up of our side with the extra batter for most of the games in the lead up to this [semi-final] that we'll back ourselves to chase anything," Langer said. "That said, finals are a different proposition. So we'll wait and see. There's also been the dew factor that didn't really come into it last night, we didn't think [it did] in Sharjah.
"But it takes nerves of steel to chase big scores in finals. It's certainly worked out well so far."
Langer has been rewarded for a bold shift in strategy moving away from Australia's long-time preference to play six batters and five bowlers, opting for seven batters and four bowlers with just one spinner for the majority of the tournament. The only exception in this trend was the heavy defeat at the hands of England.
Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell bowled four overs between them against West Indies for just 22 runs while Australia's three quicks took six wickets.
Marsh also made a brilliant half-century in the chase batting at No. 3. But Langer was especially full of praise for David Warner who scored 89 not out, saying he never doubted his opener would come good after a lean run coming into the tournament.
"I've never seen him as fit as he is at the moment," Langer said. "He's always fit. But this is at a different level at the moment. You've got to work very hard at his age. For him to do what he's doing, you saw the way he played, ran between wickets yesterday, [in] hot conditions - it's a great tribute to his professionalism and how hungry he is to keep playing great cricket. So, it's nice to see him getting the results he's had to play two amazing innings for us. And let's hope he stands up again in the finals like the other boys have been doing so far."
Australia's possible semi-final against Pakistan will also see Langer face his close mate and long-time Test opening partner, Matthew Hayden, who has been a batting consultant for Pakistan during the T20 World Cup.
"The difference is we'll be sitting on the sidelines watching," Langer said. "But he's enjoying it. We've been back and forth messaging throughout the tournament. No insights, though. We're sort of keeping business to business.
"It's going to be good to see him. I haven't seen him for a long time. But there's lots of relationships in cricket and when it comes to Thursday night, we'll put our friendship down for three hours and we'll get to business and it should be good fun."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo