ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
History points to run-fest as Langer flags change
Australia’s coach considers his options for match against Pakistan at Taunton, a venue with a reputation for high scoring
Louis Cameron in Taunton
11 June 2019, 06:00 PM AEST
Australia could recall paceman Jason Behrendorff on Wednesday in a bid to halt another opposition batting onslaught as they prepare to face giant-killers Pakistan at a venue that’s been a bowlers' graveyard in recent years.
The reigning 50-over world champions struggled to contain India's world-class top-order on Sunday, with their failure to take early wickets proving costly as Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and co. scored at close to eight-an-over for the final 40 overs of their innings.
Unless inclement weather juices up the Taunton surface this week, Australia could be in for a similar challenge when they take on Pakistan at the venue in England’s west country that once saw Chris Gayle hit 15 sixes in a county T20 match.
Over the past two English domestic one-day seasons, Taunton has boasted the highest average scoring rate (6.74) of all 11 venues being used for this World Cup, as well as the highest average first-innings score (316).
Last week’s New Zealand-Afghanistan match was the ground’s first ODI since the 1999 World Cup in the United Kingdom.
Coach Justin Langer said the Aussies had considered bringing in Behrendorff for Nathan Coulter-Nile to play India, despite the latter having earnt player-of-the-match honours for his match-winning 92 in their previous match against West Indies.
They ultimately stuck with the incumbent at The Oval and Coulter-Nile responded to conceding 14 runs from his first over to finish with the respectable figures of 1-63 from 10 overs.
But Langer said Australia are not opposed to playing both Behrendorff, a noted wicket-taker with the new ball, and fellow left-arm quick Mitchell Starc in the same XI.
"We just felt with Coults, after his man-of-the-match performance and what he gives us as an all-round package, we went with him," Langer said.
"But I can see that (Behrendorff playing), I can definitely see that. I know that Pakistan play two left armers. It's bit like Bobby Simpson telling me in 1993 you can't have two left-handed openers … that changed over the years.
"You just pick the best guys who are best matched to the game."
Coulter-Nile, who nearly reeled in a diving one-hander at square leg to remove Rohit Sharma in the opening over of the game, impressed Langer amid the flurry of runs.
"I was really impressed with Coults today," he said. "I thought his first over ... that's an area he knows he needs to improve on, whether it's nerves or getting into the rhythm early.
"He was expensive in his first over, but after that I thought he was good. He was up and about in the field. I thought he took some confidence out of his batting in the last game.
"He is a very good all-round cricketer. If he had of taken the catch against Rohit earlier, it would have been a screamer, not many blokes would have got even close. He is a good all-round package and he is playing pretty good cricket at the moment."
Australia are set to face a Pakistan side sky-high on confidence after they pulled off a major upset by smashing 348 to defeat tournament favourites England last week.
Having knocked over the two bottom-ranked teams at the tournament in Afghanistan and West Indies and then losing to heavyweights India, an unpredictable Pakistan side looms as a key test of where Australia stand.
Despite earning the nickname 'Ciderabad' for its propensity to spin in four-day games (and the region’s reputation for producing fermented apple juice), Taunton has in fact had the second lowest percentage of wickets taken by slow bowlers in domestic 50-over games over the past two years.
That could count against Nathan Lyon, who is also pushing for inclusion to partner fellow spinner Adam Zampa.
With Australia in the middle of a four-match stretch in nine days, Langer is also mindful of keeping his fast bowlers fresh, though he's hopeful the likes of Starc and Pat Cummins won't need to be rested.
"In a perfect world, you just have the best team to play every game when you possibly can," said Langer, who identified managing the schedule as his biggest challenge at this World Cup.
"I love this format but it's bloody hard. There's no easy games. We're all over the place. It (travel) is probably as hard as the cricket, honestly."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE