AGENCIES

DHAKA-Defending champions West Indies and Australia face off in a do-or-die clash in Dhaka on Friday as action resumes in group two of the World Twenty20 Super-10s after a two-day break.

India lead what is billed as the “group of death” with two consecutive wins, while Australia, the West Indies, Pakistan and hosts Bangladesh have lost a game each. Three wins in four games will not guarantee a team one of the two semi-final places from the group, but two defeats will almost certainly hasten an early exit.

George Bailey’s Australians, seeking a maiden World T20 title after winning the 50-over World Cups four times, were beaten by Pakistan in their only match so far in the tournament. The West Indies, who lost to India, bounced back to thrash Bangladesh by 73 runs on Tuesday, which gave the champions the best net run-rate in the group of 1.75.

Australia have three matches in hand and the West Indies two, but neither side can afford to lose the opening game of Friday’s double-header at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin said the knock-out situation was a blessing in disguise. “Sometimes that can relieve the pressure because you know where you stand,” Haddin said. “There will be no second chance for us. We have got to make sure that we bring our A game and deliver under pressure. We have done that well over the last four months and I see no reason why we can’t do it again.”

West Indies captain Darren Sammy admitted it would be a tough match against the Australians. “Australia are a good side, so we know it won’t be an easy game,” Sammy said. “But then it is just another cricket match — a contest between bat and ball. Teams which usually handle pressure better win.”

Australia may leave out 43-year-old spinner Brad Hogg, the oldest player ever in the World Twenty20 competitions, who had a forgettable outing against Pakistan. Hogg could be replaced by 20-year-old spinner James Muirhead, while all-rounder James Faulkner was set to play after recovering from a knee injury. The West Indies’ batting still looks unsettled despite Dwayne Smith’s 72 off 43 balls and a run-a-ball 48 by the unusually dour Chris Gayle, both against Bangladesh.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indians will take on the hosts in the second match of the evening, looking to build on the two identical seven-wicket wins over Pakistan and the West Indies. Victory on Friday will guarantee India a place in the last four should the West Indies defeat Australia earlier in the evening, but it’s unlikely that India will look too far ahead. One of Dhoni’s many admirable traits has been the ability to keep his team in the moment, to impress upon the players the perils of getting ahead of themselves.

A semifinal spot might be tantalisingly close, and while that is admittedly the first target of all teams playing in the Super 10s, India knows that if it successfully address the simple task of stacking up victories, progress in the competition will take care of itself.

Where India are riding the crest of a confidence wave on the back of its performances on the park, Bangladesh are at the opposite end of the spectrum, with its morale down after successive losses to Hong Kong in the qualification phase and to the West Indies in its Super 10 opener. As much as the defeats, it’s the manner of those losses that has been disappointing. It will take a Herculean effort for Mushfiqur Rahim to get his team off the floor.