Australia started their World Cup 2019 campaign on a sound note by winning their first two matches, against Afghanistan and West Indies. However, they were brought down to earth by the Indian team, who beat them by 36 runs last Sunday.
Australia are eyeing their 6th World Cup title this year, but it will not be easy as some of their frailties have been exposed in their first three matches.
Australia still have a very strong team on paper, and their squad has been bolstered by the return of Steve Smith and David Warner. However, their bowlers need to perform better for them to have a serious chance of lifting the cup.
Here, we look at three changes Australia could make in order to improve their game:
#1 Making changes in the pace battery
Australia’s bowling has been a concern in the recent past, and they should ideally make some changes in their bowling line-up. Both Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins have been good with the new ball, but the other pacers have not been able to back them up properly.
Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis have gone for a lot of runs, and would struggle to keep their places in the side.
Coulter-Nile made a creditable 92 in Australia’s win against West Indies, but we have to keep in mind that he is in the side primarily as a bowler; making runs with the bat cannot compensate for his poor performance with the ball. He bowled too many short deliveries against India and conceded 63 runs in his stipulated quota of 10 overs.
Stoinis also conceded 62 runs in his 7 overs against India, and his bowling lacked teeth most of the times. He is too slow to cause any serious trouble to the opposition batsmen, and Australia must be pondering playing Kane Richardson and Jason Behrendorff as their 3rd and 4th pacers instead.
That would add incisiveness in their attack, and would take some pressure off the shoulders of Starc and Cummins.
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#2 Playing Nathan Lyon in place of Adam Zampa
Nathan Lyon, the veteran spinner who has played 86 Tests for Australia, is not a regular in their team in limited overs cricket, and has featured in only 25 ODIs so far. However, he is in the World Cup squad, and could be given a chance ahead of Adam Zampa, who was put to the sword by the Indian batsmen.
Zampa went for 50 runs in his 6 overs, and hardly posed any questions to the Indian batsmen.
Moreover, Zampa does not turn the ball much, and relies mostly on his googlies and flippers. He also tends to bowl too short at times, and does not give the ball much flight. Therefore, he is unlikely to cause much trouble to the batsmen of the sub-continent, who typically play spin very well.
Lyon, who is a tidier bowler and a slightly better batsman, should come into the side against Pakistan on Wednesday.
#3 Promoting a pinch-hitter up the batting order
Australia did not alter their batting order while chasing the gargantuan total made by India on Sunday. However, they should have promoted somebody like Marcus Stoinis or Alex Carey to accelerate the run-rate early on in the innings.
Both David Warner and Aaron Finch are capable of scoring runs quickly, but Australia needed another dasher in their top order to have a realistic chance of chasing down the mammoth total.
Both Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja are technically sound batsmen, but they do not have the capability of bludgeoning the opposition attack. Glenn Maxwell is a swashbuckling batsman, but he is pretty much settled as the No. 5 spot, and his batting position should not be tinkered with.
Stoinis is in the side as an all-rounder, and he would be expected to make some contribution with the bat as well. He is capable of using the long handle, and his lusty hitting should have been put to better use.
The same goes for Carey, who got runs against both India and West Indies. It is about time that Australia made some alterations in their batting order as per the demands of the situation.