Australia captain Steven Smith has hinted that David Warner could have a fluid batting position in the World T20 despite his recent success at No.4. Australia experimented with Warner in the middle order in the T20I series against South Africa and reaped instant rewards. In the second T20I, he smashed 77 off 40 balls in Johannesburg and was involved in a record 161-run stand with Glenn Maxwell as Australia nailed a chase of 205. Warner’s role in the decider in Cape Town was also crucial, as his 27-ball 33 complemented Smith’s knock in propelling the team towards the target of 179.
Australia tried out three different opening combinations in South Africa using Aaron Finch, Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja with varying degree of success. By Khawaja’s own admission, he isn’t a certainty in the playing XI but Smith asserted that Australia’s batting order wasn’t cast in stone. “We have obviously got a lot of guys that can bat at the top of the order and he [Warner] has fitted in quite well at No.4,” Smith told reporters at his arrival press conference in Kolkata.
“That doesn’t mean he’s going to bat at No.4 in this tournament. I think for us it’s about being flexible and summing up the conditions and who we are playing against and try to match up as well as we can. But he certainly did a very good job at No.4 as well.”
Australia have tried out a number of players before eventually settling on the fifteen they have for the World T20. There is a fair bit of inexperience in the squad as well with Peter Nevill, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa having a collective experience of six T20Is. Smith, however, reckoned a “squad mentality” would help overcome such limitations and that the 2-1 series victory in South Africa was perfect preparation ahead of the World T20.
“We feel pretty settled. We have got 15 guys that can give this tournament a real shake, and I thought we played some pretty good cricket over in South Africa to win that series there,” Smith said. “South Africa produced some wickets that sort of replicated these conditions as much as they could which was nice and guys have stepped up and are in good form.
“We’ve got a good squad together and it’s going to take squad mentality for us to do well in this tournament. Selecting the best XI comes down to a lot of different things – who we think is going to be best suited for each opposition at each ground we play at. I think we’ve got 15 guys that can all do a job in these conditions.”
Smith also defended the inexperience in his spin attack and was particularly pleased with Zampa’s evolution as a leg spinner. Zampa is yet to take a wicket in two T20 internationals but he bowled economically in South Africa, giving away only 6.12 runs an over.
“I don’t think our young spinners are a weakness at all. They are very confident in the skill sets and they have proven themselves and have bowled really well in the big games,” he said. ” I think he [Zampa] has improved a lot over the last couple of years. I thought he bowled beautifully in South Africa, thought he bowled really well in the ODIs he played in NZ as well.
“I’ve seen him play for a long time. I know his skill set very well. That helps a little bit when you’re captaining someone you’ve pretty close to. He’s got a lot of variations, he reads the batsmen very well which is very important in this format of the game and he is very confident in his skill sets. Hope he can have a good tournament for us.”
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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