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Zampa, Khawaja save Australian blushes in unconvincing win

Cricket

Australia beat Bangladesh to keep their World Twenty20 hopes alive but skipper Steve Smith knows that rapid improvement is needed.

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Usman Khawaja and Adam Zampa led Australia to a shaky three-wicket victory in their must-win clash with Bangladesh overnight.

Leg spinner Zampa recorded figures of 3-23 to be named man of the match, having played a pivotal role in restricting Bangladesh to 5-156.

Khawaja’s measured 58 then helped his side haul in their target with nine balls remaining in Bengaluru.

Australia were cruising at 1-95, with Smith and Khawaja two of six wickets to fall in a collapse of 6-57.

Smith acknowledged his side couldn’t afford to make similar mistakes against Pakistan and India in Chandigarh, where they must win both remaining pool games to be any hope of making the semi-finals.

“Pakistan and India play well in these conditions and we have to do better,” Smith said in the post-match ceremony.

“We haven’t been good enough in the middle overs.

“We made it difficult at the end… we’ve had a bit of travel but it’s not an excuse.”

Khawaja looked every bit a Zen master, flicking his wrists to pick the gaps in a 62-run opening stand with Shane Watson.

Australia's Usman Khawaja plays a shot during their ICC World Twenty20 2016 cricket match against Bangladesh in Bangalore, India, Monday, March 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Usman Khawaja top scored for Australia. Photo: Aijaz Rahi, AP.

Watson was run out for 21, falling short while searching for a second run, before Khawaja and Smith were both bowled.

Things threatened to get interesting when David Warner and Mitch Marsh were both caught by Shakib Al Hasan.

Glenn Maxwell and John Hastings then fell trying to clear the rope but James Faulkner stroked a ball through covers to bring up the winning runs.

“When you’re chasing a total like that and you don’t really have that many runs left to get you can probably afford to take a few risks,” Zampa said.

“But it’s also something that we’ve spoken about recently, the middle-overs batting.

“That’s something that we didn’t really do quite well against New Zealand, we haven’t done it quite well tonight, either.”

The World T20 essentially became a knockout tournament for Australia after NZ trumped them by eight runs.

“We were disappointed but we spoke about it straight away, that the equation for us is pretty simple now: win every game,” Zampa said.

Smith was suitably buoyed by a more batsman-friendly pitch than what his side encountered in Dharamsala, where NZ’s spinners sliced through the middle order.

The fresh-faced skipper opted to chase and the decision was backed up by Zampa, who put the brakes on Bangladesh by dismissing Mohammad Mithun, Shuvagata Hom and Al Hasan.

Mahmudullah successfully teed off in the final three overs of Bangladesh’s innings, finishing 49 not out to set Australia a target above 150.

“We were pretty confident chasing 155 but we would probably be a little bit disappointed that we had to chase that in the end,” Zampa said.

Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza lamented his side’s fielding, especially a high catch that was put down by Mithun when Watson was on 13.

“The first six overs was very crucial and we couldn’t get any wickets,” he said.

Australia's captain Steven Smith is bowled out by Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman during their ICC World Twenty20 2016 cricket match in Bangalore, India, Monday, March 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Steve Smith fell cheaply again, bowled out by Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman. Photo: Aijaz Rahi, AP.

Meanwhile, Australia have handed over the title of women’s World Twenty20 favourites in a one-sided loss to New Zealand.

The White Ferns were widely tipped to be the biggest roadblock to Australia’s hopes of a fourth straight T20 title, having won a recent trans-Tasman T20 series.

Those predictions look to be on the money after they cruised to a six-wicket win with 22 balls remaining in Nagpur.

Australia scrapped their way to 8-103, only for NZ to reel in the target with remarkable ease.

Allrounder Ellyse Perry, who scored 42 in a much-needed recovery after the Southern Stars collapsed to 4-4, conceded NZ were the team to beat at the tournament.

“In a World Cup anyone is in with a shot but they’re certainly in form and leading the way,” Perry said.

“The way they played today and the way they took it to us in their batting innings… they’ve got a lot of weapons.

“They seem to be playing some consistently really good cricket.

“They’re one of the favourites for the tournament… whatever team plays them they’re going to be a big challenge.”

-AAP

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