How Aussies are preparing for IPL-style shootouts

After the highest scoring IPL ever, Australia are considering how they can post monster totals if similar conditions prevail at the World Cup

Australia are bracing for the IPL's scoring explosion to creep into the T20 World Cup with selectors preparing to pack their side with power-hitters if matches descend into six-hitting shootouts.

While coach Andrew McDonald is anticipating bowlers to have more in their favour in the Caribbean than they have during a six-laden Indian Premier League, he acknowledges "anything is possible" in the right circumstances.

Cameron Green, preferred over Jake Fraser-McGurk in the 15-man squad due to his versatility, could bat as low as No.8 in an allrounder- and batter-heavy team if the Aussies deem a monster total will be needed to win.

"The recent trend of the IPL, you've got to take that into the equation," McDonald told "Is that trend going to be real and sustainable? Are you going to need to post 240-plus to win a game?

"If that is the case, there's no doubt that there would be a discussion around playing an extra batter to make sure you're capable of stretching totals out to 240-plus, which is what we've seen in the IPL."

That league is in the closing stages of the fastest-scoring season of any short-form men's league in history.

Its eye-popping run-rate of 9.57 after the end of the home-and-away campaign has left many wondering if it is a precursor to 200-plus scores becoming the norm in T20s.

That is even allowing for the effect of the IPL's impact player substitution rule, which essentially allows teams to play with 12 players, that will not be in play at the World Cup.

That the only other short-form tournaments to have ever registered run-rates above nine per over – last year's PSL and Hundred competitions – have also been played in the last 18 months only underlines the trend.

Playing just three specialist bowlers and stacking their team with allrounders like Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Green would embolden Australia's top-order to attack from ball one.

But McDonald is wary of pre-tournament hype around huge totals.

"We're seeing over a period of time that when the pressure comes on in World Cups, the totals can be a little bit lower," he said.

"We've had that in 50-over cricket where people were talking about 400-plus (scores) being the new normal, and you get to World Cups and it feels as though things recalibrate under that extreme pressure.

"We've just got to work out what the trend is that we want to dictate as well. It's not about reacting to what others are doing.

"We've got the capabilities of playing eight batters, and if we feel like that potentially can be the best way of defeating an opponent on the surface that's in front of you, then yeah, we'll go down that path."

The numbers certainly back up the notion that scoring gets more difficult at major ICC events.

The highest run-rate at a T20 World Cup came at its inaugural tournament in 2007 in South Africa (7.92), with more recent editions in 2021 in the UAE (7.40) and 2022 in Australia (7.46) much slower affairs.

The last one in the Caribbean was similar (7.49 at the 2010 World T20), while numbers from recent Caribbean Premier League seasons suggest bowlers will be able to apply the brakes more easily in World Cup matches held on the islands.

"I think that it will slow down a little bit, but if you get a small ground with some good surfaces, anything's possible with the way batting units go about it," said McDonald.

"If they start to become slower and lower, and start to spin a little bit more, the totals will come down and there's going to be a different way of conjuring up the runs you need to win. We feel as though we've got that flexibility.

"If you look at the CPL … that's one of the lowest scoring tournaments domestically around the world, and that includes the West Indian players playing in that competition who are some of the best power hitters in the game."

The eight-batter line-up is only one of the strategies being prepared by the 2021 T20 world champions.

The inclusion of Ashton Agar in the 15-man squad, despite, like Green, having not played a T20I since the last World Cup, gives them the flexibility for spin to make up more than half their overs if he plays alongside both Adam Zampa and Maxwell.

That may be a consideration for their first two matches of the tournament, against Oman and Namibia, both being played in Barbados. Australia will then return there for the tournament final if they make it.

The Aussies' most recent games at the famed Kensington Oval (albeit in the 50-over format) were played on raging turners. The ground has been spin-friendly in more recent T20Is too.

The focus for Australia through the first round will be to take care of business against the lower-ranked sides (they also face Scotland in St Lucia). If they do that, their match against England will count for nothing given seedings for the Super Eights are pre-determined.

Should they make it all the way to the decider, Australia will have a gruelling run of five games in 10 days on five different islands.

"It definitely speeds up when you get through to the Super Eights," said McDonald.

"First and foremost, you've got to navigate through that first part of the tournament. We've seen some upsets (in the past) along the way.

"We'll be looking to implement what we feel as though will be the style of play that can win a World Cup. That'll be our goal to get everyone up and running in those games.

"There's no doubt that England will give us a good yardstick of where we're at, being one of the competition favourites.

"The interesting fact is also that none of the net run-rate or points (count) in that next phase, so it really is a case of just getting through that (group stage) – and then your tournament starts after that."

2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: v Oman, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 10.30am AEST

June 9: v England, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 3am AEST

June 12: v Namibia, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

June 16: v Scotland, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 10.30am AEST

Super Eights, finals to follow if Australia qualify

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