Justin Langer acknowledged it was impossible to overlook the advantage of winning the toss at the T20 World Cup but the Australia head coach has backed his side’s “fearless” mindset to overcome any hurdle.
Every team that has batted second under lights in Dubai has won, with Australia the latest to reap the benefit of choosing to do so after recovering from 96 for five to chase down 177 and beat tournament favourites Pakistan.
Matthew Wade got Australia into Sunday’s final against New Zealand with 41 not out from 17 balls following three successive sixes off Pakistan’s talismanic left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi in an improbable five-wicket win.
And Langer, who revealed captain Aaron Finch initially thought of batting first on Thursday, believes the resolve Wade showed underlines how confident Australia are heading into the clash against their Antipodean rivals.
Asked whether the toss is becoming too significant, Langer responded: “Finchy thought about batting because it was a big final, I think a few people talked him out of it. You can’t deny the statistics, no question about that.
“But against Pakistan it could have gone either way when we were five for 96. It’s very important that we have the mindset whether we bat or bowl first, that we can win from any situation. That mindset is going to be important.”
Australia were thrashed by England in the Super 12s two weeks ago, Jos Buttler producing arguably the standout innings of the tournament with an unbeaten 71 as Eoin Morgan’s side won with eight wickets and 50 balls to spare.
Few gave Australia hope of reaching the showpiece at that point but Langer revealed he sensed a change in attitude in their next game against Bangladesh, whose paltry 73 all out was overhauled after 38 balls.
Australia were able to finish second in their group, edging out South Africa on net run-rate, before an unbroken 81-run stand between Wade and Marcus Stoinis got them over the line against Pakistan.
“It’s one thing to talk about fearless, it’s almost like every T20 team will use that word,” Langer added.
“But the first time I’d really seen it was when we had that Bangladesh chase and I think it’s a real blueprint for this tournament but also into the future for Australia’s white-ball cricket.
“If we’re going to win this tournament we’ve got to continue on with the way we played from Bangladesh. So bat first or second, that fearless or aggressive batting is going to be crucial.”
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) November 11, 2021
Stoinis initially lit the touch paper for Australia’s fightback and finished on an unbeaten 40 from 31 balls after Wade’s pyrotechnics off Afridi got their side home with six deliveries still remaining.
Australia have rarely been regarded as underdogs on the global stage but they have slipped a little under the radar in the United Arab Emirates, especially after their thumping at England’s hands.
Questioned whether they have used that status as motivation, all-rounder Stoinis said: “I think something that’s definitely been evident in this trip is, whatever feeling there might be on the outside, it’s not on the inside.
“The team and the way they’ve been getting on, and the way we’ve been with each other and speaking to each other, and the confidence we feel about how we play, it’s as good as I’ve had in a long time playing for Australia.
“Personally sometimes I use these things to put a bit of fire in the belly but it hasn’t been spoken about really as a team.”