T20 World Cup 2021: This could be ‘underdogs’ Australia’s year, says Brett Lee on prospect of maiden title

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Former pacer Brett Lee believes with David Warner in prime form, “underdogs” Australia are well poised to clinch their maiden ICC T20 World Cup title this time.

But for that to be realised, Australia first will have to beat firm favourites Pakistan in the second semifinal here on Thursday.

“After almost a month of action, it all comes down to five days, four teams and three matches at the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup 2021. And I reckon this could be Australia’s year,” he wrote in a column for the ICC.

“England is the favourites from here but I sense the belief in the Australia camp and I think there is some real momentum there. Everything is clicking nicely ahead of Thursday’s semi-final against Pakistan.”

Lee said he had faith in Warner’s ability to regain form and had a chat with him ahead of the tournament.

“I was speaking to David Warner before it started and told him ‘I have you down to be Australia’s leading run-scorer, so don’t let me down!’ I did that on the belief that he is a big-match player, a big tournament player and that has not changed.

Aaron Finch has found some form, Mitchell Marsh is hitting the ball well and Glenn Maxwell will come good.”

In the run-up to the World Cup, Australia had lost five straight series, suffering defeats against Bangladesh, West Indies, New Zealand, India and England.

Lee feels coming into the tournament on a low has helped Australia immensely.

“They have been underdogs in this tournament and going under the radar has really helped them.

“When you go in as one of the favourites like England, with their history and success, it breeds confidence but also expectations.

“If England doesn’t beat New Zealand and make the final, people will be asking questions, just like India, who started slowly and didn’t peak at the right time.”

The 45-year-old former tear-away pacer feels the four semifinalists rightfully deserved their places in the business end of the tournament.

“I think we have the right four teams in the semi-finals and it’s interesting to note that only one of them is from the sub-continent. We thought the conditions would favour the likes of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but it just didn’t happen for them,” Lee said.

He observed that the unlikely success story for Australia in the tournament so far was the way how the batters handled spinners.

“A key reason for Australia’s success is how they have utilised spin. With the bat, we have some great players of spin and they have shown that in this tournament, but the big weapon is Adam Zampa,” Lee wrote.

“His form spinning the ball has been key and Australia have embraced a different T20 style with him. Before, the method was always to try to score 170-odd and then try and blow teams away with the quicks. But they know they can’t do that in the UAE and introducing a bigger spin element has helped massively.”

Lee advised Australian players just to enjoy the moment.

“The advice I would give is to enjoy it. Enjoy how far you have come. Focus on the strengths, and the strengths for all four teams are they have done the basics far better than most other teams. T20 cricket is about match-winners, big runs and big totals. But it is also about the one-per-cent moments,” he said.

“Australia is experienced in these situations. Some of these boys won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015 and then reached the semi-finals four years later and that counts for so much in those pressure situations at the death.

“If you have been there and done it, whether you have won or lost, you will have learnt from that experience and playing under that pressure.”



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