The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on Australia.

It has been a rough year so far for Australia, who have sunk to seventh place in the ICC T20I rankings going into the World Cup. But with big names including Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and David Warner back in the squad, there is a sense of optimism that the men from Down Under can turn the tide and challenge for the trophy. The T20I World Cup is one trophy that still eludes Australia, and they will be desperate to win it this year.

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Australia’s 2021 so far has been nothing short of disastrous. From an embarrassing Test series defeat to a Virat Kohli-less India team at home to humiliation in T20I series against Bangladesh and the West Indies, Australia have had to deal with a lot of lows this year. But all will be forgotten if they manage bring home the World Cup and then beat England in the Ashes.

Biggest Strength

Some might say that Australia’s biggest strength is their world class top order. But with David Warner struggling for form and Steve Smith and Aaron Finch lacking match practice, we feel that Australia’s bowling unit will be their biggest strength. The Aussies have one of the world’s best death overs bowlers in Mitchell Starc. Joining him in the attack will be Josh Hazlewood, who found his form in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings. They also have one of the best all-formats bowlers in world cricket in Pat Cummins. And Kane Richardson is an exceptional T20 bowler in his own right. While the Aussies’ spin attack led by the formidable duo of Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar.

Biggest Weakness

Australia’s biggest weakness is their lack of balance and the fact that they still don’t seem to know what their best XI is or what the structure of the lineup will look like come their first game October 23. Justin Langer has tried and tested so many different combinations over the last 12 months, and not much has worked out for the team. They have several superstars in their squad, but the question remains whether they can find the balance and cohesion that would get the best out of the players.

The ICC T20 World Cup is the only ICC international tournament
that the Australian team haven’t won in their history

What the media are saying

Australia’s build-up to the World Cup has hardly been ideal, with all the doubts about Justin Langer’s coaching ability dominating the news cycles. There is also the small matter of the Ashes coming up, which takes up priority in the minds of most Australia fans and the media. And with a tough group to navigate, the belief that the Aussies will be in the semi-finals appears to be on the low end. That being said, expectations remain high and Aaron Finch and co. simply cannot afford another poor showing at the T20I World Cup.

Glenn Maxwell has the 3rd highest career strike rate in T20I history (158.92)

Star Player

It is hard to look past Glenn Maxwell, who is arguably the only Australia batter who is in form going into the World Cup. The Big Show enjoyed a successful IPL with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and played a crucial role in helping them reach the playoffs. He is one of those players who can singlehandedly take a team to victory from the jaws of defeat. And Australia will be hoping that he carries his IPL form to the World Cup.

The English-born Josh Inglis has an average of 32.90 in T20 and his highest score in this format of the game is 118*

Keep an eye on…

Matthew Wade’s form is a big concern for Australia going into the World Cup. That could present an opportunity for Josh Inglis to stake a claim for a spot in the playing XI. The uncapped Perth Scorchers star showed his potential by hitting eight runs off two deliveries in the final over to help Australia beat New Zealand in their first warm-up game on Monday. And his performances over the last 12 months suggest that he could be exactly what Australia need in their middle-order.

Projected XI

Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood

Prediction

On paper, this Australia squad looks as formidable as any other team. But a closer look suggests that there are many holes that Justin Langer and Aaron Finch will need to plug if they want to have any chance of making it to the semi-finals, let alone winning the World Cup. Getting the better of England, the West Indies and South Africa certainly won’t be easy. But if the big names step up with the bat and avoid a panicky approach against spin bowling, they could yet make it deep in the tournament. Otherwise it will be an early trip home for Australia.