COLOMBO – Doubts remain over Australia’s ability to handle top-class spin but Australia coach Mickey Arthur wants his batsmen to be the ones asking the questions on Saturday night as they put West Indies wizard Sunil Narine under pressure.
Australia began their World Twenty20 campaign in Colombo with a seven-wicket win over Group B rivals Ireland, restricting the 10th-ranked side to 7-123 and scoring 3-125 in reply with 4.5 overs to spare.
Australia’s world ranking is only one spot above Ireland’s, however George Bailey’s men made short work of their first hit-out and were determined to snuff out any challenge as quickly as possible.
“We knew if we were really up for it, which we certainly were, that we were going to give ourselves the best chance of not having that tag of getting beaten by Ireland,” said Watson, who was man-of-the-match after taking 3-26 including a wicket with the first ball of the match.
Watson also struck 51 off 30 balls, adding 60 for Australia’s first wicket with David Warner (26).
Arthur says the blueprint for success against bowlers like Narine is to have wickets in hand and put the spinners under pressure and hit them off their line.
Australia’s struggles against Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal – who took six wickets at an average of 8.67 in the three-game series in Dubai earlier this month – have underlined to Arthur the need to have batsmen in the shed.
Arthur is also heartened by off-spinner Narine’s failure to take a wicket against Australia on turning pitches in the two-game T20 series in the West Indies in March 2012.
The 24-year-old, named last week as the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year, has taken seven wickets at 18.28 in his five-match career.
“It’s really tough for the new batter to start against that but if you’re in there is the possibility to put him under some pressure,” Arthur said today.
“We’ve got guys who can do that. Mike Hussey has taken him down at times.
“We made some progress against him in the West Indies. He’s always going to be a factor, like Ajmal and Ajantha Mendis for Sri Lanka.
“If we can put him under just a little bit of pressure and that’s something we haven’t been able to do with the spinners, we’ve always been a couple of wickets down.
“We haven’t been able to attack Ajmal, or Narine in the West Indies where it turned massively.
You’re always able to tell the ilk of a bowler when he is under pressure.
“He’s not going to have the same conditions he had in the West Indies, nowhere near it.
“Narine claimed 11 Australian wickets at 14.45 in the one-day series in March.