Australia were eliminated from the World Twenty20 before a ball was bowled in their clash with India, but still managed to dig deeper into their hole with the most embarrassing loss of George Bailey’s Twenty20 captaincy – a 73-run hiding at the hands of India.
Chasing a modest target of 160 for victory on Sunday, Australia fell under the spell of India’s spin kings, while throwing in half a dozen inexplicably poor dismissals, to be humbled for just 86 – their second lowest Twenty20 total of all time – with a mammoth 26 balls remaining.
Pakistan’s defeat of Bangladesh, in the early match in Dhaka, consigned even the slim mathematical possibility of Australia advancing to the bin – but they still had pride to play for against one of the world’s premier T20 sides.
Judging by the reaction of coach Darren Lehmann, who stormed off late in Australia’s shambolic batting performance, they fell well short of that mark.
Australia’s opening two losses, to Pakistan and the West Indies, were nail-biters.
Their loss to India could be seen from a mile away, and Bailey didn’t attempt to mask his feelings.
“I’d go so far as to say it’s the most disappointing game that I’ve led from this team, for three years,” said Bailey, who took control of the T20 squad February 2012.
Things started promisingly, with all six Australian bowlers claiming a wicket as India were restricted to 7-159.
But as has been the issue all tournament, the top order failed to fire and spin was the key force behind the collapse.
The loose shot selection, with many poorly timed strikes caught in the deep, gave the impression the team that has taken down all comers this summer was ready for a holiday.
Offspinner Ravi Ashwin was the main threat, taking 4-11, including the wickets of top-order batsmen Aaron Finch (6), David Warner (19) and Glenn Maxwell (23).
Warner threw his wicket away, top-edging a sweep from Ashwin which was caught on the boundary to end a burgeoning partnership with the in-form Maxwell.
Maxwell was even more wasteful, sending three sixes into the crowd before attempting an unnecessary reverse sweep which collected the top of off stump.
And the normally dependable Bailey was at fault for one of the worst of the lot – caught at deep mid-wicket, the delivery after hitting Ravindra Jadeja for six.
“I’m disappointed for the team. I’m disappointed with the way we batted,” Bailey said, when asked if he was embarrassed by the team’s performance.
“But I’m not embarrassed for anyone, apart from myself.
“If I was embarrassed I’d say it is with my own performance, to my own (dismissal).”
Shane Watson continued his miserable tournament with the bat, bowled for one – to go with scores of two and four in the opening two games, leaving his series total in single figures after three matches.
Watson’s dismissal was perhaps the most farcical – the powerful allrounder, and renowned fan of the decision review system, stood his ground and demanded a replay, which confirmed that he had, in fact, been bowled.
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh, despite a horror tournament in which the 32-year-old had scores of 10 and 1, roared back to form with a terrific 60 off 43 that included two big sixes off young legspinner James Muirhead.
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