Australia will need to be flawless if they are to end their Twenty20 World Cup title drought, after an upset first up loss to Pakistan on Sunday, star allrounder Glenn Maxwell admits.
The pre-tournament favourites were uncharacteristically lacklustre in the field, and lost early wickets before Maxwell and opener Aaron Finch added 118 for the third wicket to put Australia in the box seat.
But a shocking collapse of 7-29 that saw Australia bowled out for 175, 16 runs short of Pakistan’s total of 5-191, put them on the precipice of an early exit.
Only a perfect record from their remaining matches will ensure they progress past the Super 10 stage.
In Australia’s group, India are in the box seat to advance with two wins from their opening two matches, and a clash with easybeats Bangladesh to come.
Pakistan’s victory over Australia has given them a stay of execution, following a first up loss to India, ensuring the rest of the group is wide open.
But Australia’s participation in the knockout stages could well hinge on Friday’s clash with the West Indies, who will also be desperate to bounce back from their opening loss to India on Sunday.
“We’ve just got to be flawless from now on,” Maxwell, who smacked a stunning 74 off 33 against Pakistan, said.
“We’ve got to hit the training paddock a bit harder and work on our fielding. It wasn’t good enough (against Pakistan).
“We’ll be hitting that hard and trying to rectify all the mistakes we made (on Sunday).
“Hopefully we’ll be flawless for the rest of the tournament.”
The horror fielding effort, in which man of the match Umar Akmal (94 off 54) was dropped on 22, was nearly papered over by Maxwell’s pyrotechnics.
Dubbed ‘The Big Show’ by teammates, Maxwell’s explosive match-winning ability has made him an Indian Premier League millionaire.
And he gave an example of why people believe he’s worth every rupee, blasting six sixes, seven fours and narrowly surviving a nasty beam-ball from pedestrian paceman Bilawal Bhatti in a blistering knock.
Opener Aaron Finch, owner of the biggest century in T20 cricket, played the sideshow to `The Big Show’ – finishing with 65.
But he too was unable to get Australia home.
Australia captain George Bailey took some comfort from the recovery mission carried out by Maxwell and Finch, and hinted it gave hope for the remainder of the tournament.
“To get ourselves to a stage where we needed 70 off 60 shows a lot of promise,” captain George Bailey said.
“Two outstanding innings from ‘Maxy’ and ‘Finchy’ so that’s really good for us, but absolutely, from there you’d like to think you can finish it off.”
But he conceded that it left Australia in a position where they couldn’t afford to drop even one more game in the group stages.
“Most probably (we’ll have to win every game from here),” he said.
“I think you start most tournaments with that mentality that winning everything, maybe being able to lose one.”