T20 World Cup: Aaron Finch admits Australia needed bit of luck in the end against South Africa

At one point, Australia were reeling at 81 for five in the 16th over, leaving the game evenly poised before Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) sealed it in his team's favour with two fours in the final over.

Published: 24th October 2021 10:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2021 10:20 AM   |  A+A-

Josh Hazlewood

Australia's Josh Hazlewood (L) is congratulated by teammate's Mitchell Marsh, and Aaron Finch, right, after dismissing South Africa's Quinton de Kock. (Photo | AP)


ABU DHABI: Australian captain Aaron Finch said his team "needed a bit of luck" to get the better of South Africa in their ICC T20 World Cup opener here on Saturday.

Australia's batters did just enough to eke out a five-wicket win in the last over after their bowlers set it up with a fine display, restricting the opposition to 118 for nine on a pitch where playing strokes was not the easiest of jobs.

At one point, Australia were reeling at 81 for five in the 16th over, leaving the game evenly poised before Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) sealed it in his team's favour with two fours in the final over.

"The dugout was probably a bit more relaxed than I was. Anytime it comes down to the wire but Stoinis and (Matthew) Wade kept their cool there. It's what experience can do," Finch said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

The skipper also praised all-rounder Glenn Maxwell who chipped in with the ball before getting out for 18 with the bat.

"We felt there were good match-ups for him in the powerplay, and then (David) Miller came in and they couldn't go hard, they were in a bit of a holding pattern (so it worked out)."

Regarding Man of the Match Josh Hazlewood, who returned excellent figures of 2/19 in four overs, Finch said, "Ideally I would have been able to push him for a third in the powerplay, he's a world-class bowler in any form of the game.

"People say that's easy in this format but when you get it right on a pitch with variation, it can get tough."

Finch also said that periodic breaks from the game would be great for the players in his team.

"There's never been any issue for us - we know people need to rest and I think for the longevity of Australian cricket it's a great thing.

"It's nice to get the experienced guys back because it counts in a World Cup."

South Africa fielded superbly and the highlight was the sensational diving catch by Aiden Markram, making the task difficult for Australia.

"South Africa is as good a fielding team as you get, in a big ground you think you can exploit (but they gave nothing away). In the end we needed a bit of luck to go our way and we got it," Finch said.

South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma looked at the positives from the game as his team fought till the end and gave Australia a run for their money despite defending a low total.

"We want to talk about us being resilient. Big effort from the guys to get us to the last over. We just didn't get enough with the bat and it was always going to be tough for the bowlers, and it was a good effort from them to get it to this stage," Bavuma said.

South Africa were in with a chance after they picked up Australia's fifth wicket in the form of the dangerous Maxwell, but Stoinis had other ideas.

Bavuma said the Australians adapted to the conditions better.

"I think Australia bowled well, probably barring the fast bowler. They adjusted to conditions, hitting that back of the length. Their spinners too, they didn't give us anything.

"Credit to Aiden (Markram, who top-scored with 40 for SA), but as a batting team, definitely not to plan. As much as it isn't a day that didn't go to plan, there are positives to take from it. We spoke about it at half time that we weren't going to leave anything out there."

Hazlewood, who bowled beautifully alongside Adam Zampa (2/21) and Maxwell (1/24), said hitting the right length was the key.

"I think length was the key, hitting the right length, just on top of the stumps. Anything slightly short or fuller seemed easy, so length was key. The wicket seamed reasonably good, but it was a little bit stoppy, a little bit slow," Hazlewood said.

"It plays that way during the day and gets easier at night. We've got a number of all-rounder there and Maxi was the man today to bowl the four. It sort of got close in the end but we've got finishers and we were confident in them."


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