Phew. That was a little too close. Australia don't look like even remotely serious contenders in the World T20, but did enough overnight to sneak past Bangladesh and post a three wicket win.
Stay there a minute while we fetch the same old recording we've been playing all summer. Ah, here it is. It's the one that goes: Usman Khawaja saved Australia with some really beautiful batting, balancing wristy strokes behind square with the occasional lofted drive for six.
The other track you've heard more often than Brown Eyed Girl is the one that goes "Glenn Maxwell got himself out". Then there's "Mitchell Marsh failed again", which he did with both bat and ball. The all-rounder dropped a catch too, but don't worry, they'll pick him next game because cricket selectors have been hypnotised into believing they must. Anyone got a better explanation?
On a slow pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, Bangladesh made 156, which wasn't the worst score in the world. It looked like it could have been more before Adam Zampa came and slowed things down in the middle of the innings, bagging his first three international T20 wickets in the process.
Australia's chase, as stated, was all about Khawaja. He'd looked good in Australia's opening match against New Zealand too before being needlessly run out. Khawaja didn't quite see the job through against Bangladesh, but when he got out for 58 with the score at 113, you sensed he'd done enough.
That's when the stuttering, sputtering Australian middle order did what it has done so often lately, which is not much. Steve Smith looked out of sorts in making 14. Dave Warner came and went for 17 off 9. The pick of the middle order was Glenn Maxwell who played with his typical backyard abandon making 26 off 15 before throwing his wicket away like a cold sausage sandwich.
None of this was particularly convincing. But collectively, it was enough to beat a really weak team to which Australia has never lost in this format of the game.
Much bigger challenges now await in the form of Pakistan and India. Australia, to this observer's eye, looks a batsman short. Surely one of our four all-rounders could make way for a real batsman. Aaron Finch comes to mind, given the fact he averages 40 in this form of the game with a strike rate of 150 -- truly remarkable figures.
Finch has carried the drinks with great aplomb this tournament, but might be put to better use by being asked to carry a bat.Suggest a correction