Aus vs Ind 2023-24 – Borovec backs Australia’s approach despite second T20 defeat

Andre Borovec, Australia’s stand-in head coach, rued losing too many wickets in the first ten overs after his side’s 44-run defeat in the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram. But at the same time, he lauded the intent shown by the batters throughout the chase.

Batting first, India scored a mammoth 235 for 4. In response, Australia were on 104 after ten overs but had lost four wickets. Marcus Stoinis and Tim David kept the fight on by adding 81 off just 38 balls for the fifth wicket, but Australia eventually fell short and are now trailing 2-0 in the five-match series.

“It’s just that we were behind a couple more wickets at the halfway mark there, four to one,” Borovec said. “It’s always ifs, buts and maybes, isn’t it? But we just fell behind the game a little bit. We knew we probably didn’t have the breathing space that India had going into those last ten overs.

“One of the key pillars of our game is intent. And you couldn’t fault that throughout the innings. Will there be mistakes made? Of course. But if we’re making mistakes with good intent, good decisions, good plans, and if the execution doesn’t go quite right, well, we’re quite happy to accept that.”

Another difference was that India scored 20 or more in an over on four occasions. Australia did so on two. Borovec acknowledged that the bowlers found it difficult to close out the over after they had conceded boundaries on the first two balls.

“The first two balls in an over can be quite important in T20 cricket,” he said. “If you’re conceding boundaries on those two balls, it can be difficult to get back. You’ve got less resources at your disposal as you’ve shown a couple of deliveries… if you’ve bowled a bouncer.

“What we saw tonight was that at those moments, the Indian players were getting ahead in the count and almost getting a good read on what potential ball might come down at them. I think zeroing in on those first two balls and how we can structure those better – that’s usually a good starting point.”

On Sunday, Australia left out Jason Behrendorff, their best bowler in Visakhapatnam, where he picked up 1 for 25 from his four overs even as India chased down 209. It raised questions as to whether he was unfit, but Borovec clarified it was because they wanted to play two spinners keeping in mind the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be played in the West Indies and the USA where the pitches are expected to be on the slower side.

“We’ve got a few things to consider that we need to see different players in different conditions and one of the considerations today was to have a look at two spinners,” he said. “We thought that was going to be a good attacking option for us, so we decided to structure our bowling around that.

“We had a great conversation with Jase about how good his bowling was. Also, when you look back at it, it was probably one of his better bowling performances for Australia. So it was a really tough decision but one we built around the fact that these conditions, we thought, were going to help spin a little bit more than perhaps Vizag.”

Given it had rained on Saturday, there wasn’t much help on offer for spinners. And despite dew starting to settle in as early as the seventh over in the first innings, Tanveer Sangha and Adam Zampa helped Australia pull things back. India had raced away to 77 for 1 in the powerplay but could add only 29 in the next five overs.

“The irony was when the dew came, we had some nice overs there around about the seventh to the 11th over,” Borovec said. “It just shows that in T20 cricket sometimes things like that happen that go against the grain. We are probably a little bit disappointed with our execution in the first six. And that’s where we thought the sweet spot was for taking wickets and giving our spinners a chance to bowl at some new batters.

“I was really proud of that fightback in that early middle-overs period. Then of course the dew came in and it just made it so difficult to execute, but you can’t fault the endeavour and the plans with the bowlers.”

Australia are trying out one more thing in this series: Steven Smith at the top of the order. Opening the batting in the first T20I, he was on 24 off as many balls at one point before finishing on 52 off 41. Here, he scored 19 off 16. Borovec, however, was happy with Smith’s approach.

“We have got a number of things we’re looking at,” he said. “We’ve got ten games to fit some of that stuff in. Not all of it is possible. One of the things we had in our planning coming into this series was to have a look at Steve up the top. And we’ve had a chance to do that now and again. We’ve been extremely happy with that intent that he’s shown with the bat.”

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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