Dhaka – Injury-plagued Australia begin their quest for the only major title missing from their overflowing cupboard when they clash with shaky Pakistan in the World Twenty20 in Dhaka on Sunday.
Pakistan's seven-wicket drubbing at India's hands on Friday night should give Australia added confidence for the group two Super-10 game at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
But skipper George Bailey refused to take victory for granted, insisting instead that it was spin-heavy Pakistan that held the advantage.
“I don't think we have any advantage,” Bailey said. “If anything, they have probably got the advantage in terms of having played here and got used to the conditions.
“We have not played at this ground yet. It is going to be fresh for us. We have to adjust pretty quickly.”
Australia, already missing premier fast bowler Mitchell Johnson due to a toe infection, will also be without all-rounder James Faulkner for the opening match.
Bailey said Faulkner, a hard-hitting right-hand batsman and left-arm seamer, had still not recovered from the knee injury that forced him to miss the recent tour of South Africa.
“We will just monitor him,” the captain said. “He is an important player. He has certainly played a huge role for Australian sides in the T20 and one-day formats.”
Australia, who have won the 50-over World Cup four times and are a leading Test side, have made the final of the World Twenty20 just once in four attempts, losing the title to England in 2010.
Bailey said the current squad was different from previous ones, but needed to be consistent to win a maiden T20 title.
“We have got more versatility just in terms of what we can do with the ball,” he said. “And we are probably a little bit more powerful with the bat, and bat a little deeper.
“You just have to to play some good, consistent cricket to get to the semi-finals. And then you hope that you have carried some momentum there.
“Consistency is probably the key. There's are a whole different range of ways that a game can be won and lost in T20s and it can happen quickly Ä it can be one catch, might be one over, might be one wicket that's taken.
“But the better team is probably going to win their game. Every team that plays at their worst is going to lose. The challenge is to make sure that the gap is not too big.”
Bailey conceded it would be a challenge to tackle Pakistan's spinners, led by the prolific Saeed Ajmal, but was hopeful his batsmen will stand up to the task.
“They are a very, very strong spinning side, but I think we have got a strong batting line-up that hopefully can overcome them,” the Australian captain said.
“Spin plays a huge role in T20, wherever it is played in the world. But in these conditions, it tends to be match-winning. We know we are going to face lots of spin.”
Bailey said it was important to start with a win in the group which also includes defending champions the West Indies, India and hosts Bangladesh.
“In a tournament like this, momentum is really important,” he said. “Starting with a win gets you off and running and I don't think you can afford to drop many games. The more wins the better.”
Two teams from the group will advance to the semi-finals. – Sapa-AFP