Australia's IPL 2024 dominance a warning to Rohit Sharma's India as old nemesis gear up strongly for T20 World Cup | Crickit
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Australia's IPL 2024 dominance a warning to Rohit Sharma's India as old nemesis gear up strongly for T20 World Cup

Apr 24, 2024 02:25 PM IST

Australia have been India’s nemesis in tournament finals at all levels – senior men, junior men and senior women.

Marcus Stoinis began IPL 2024 tepidly, with 46 runs in his first three innings. But since earning a promotion up the order, the muscular right-hander has been in stunning form. His last five hits have yielded 208 runs, the crowning glory Tuesday night’s match-winning unbeaten 124 that helped Lucknow Super Giants breach Chennai Super Kings’ Chepauk fortress.

Marcus Stoinis (L) and Travis Head are among the many Australians who are in prime form ahead of the T20 World Cup in June 2024(PTI)
Marcus Stoinis (L) and Travis Head are among the many Australians who are in prime form ahead of the T20 World Cup in June 2024(PTI)

The 34-year-old is a veteran of 265 T20 games, including 59 for Australia. All other things being equal, Stoinis will be on the flight to North America next month for the T20 World Cup, buoyed by his performances for his franchise and hoping to translate that good run to the international level.

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Stoinis isn’t the only Australian batter to have enjoyed a good IPL. Travis Head has had a great IPL, perched third in the run-getters’ chart. More than the impressive quantum of runs (324), the left-handed opener has been the most impactful batter in the competition, striking at 216 runs per 100 balls; he has blasted 39 fours and 18 sixes in 150 deliveries, extending a purple patch that netted him centuries in the final of the World Test Championship and the final of the 50-over World Cup, both against India last year.

LSG and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively will be delighted at the efforts thus far of Stoinis and Head, as will Delhi Capitals, for whom Jake Fraser-McGurk, the supremely gifted right-hander, has been electric. Pat Cummins has been wonderful for SRH, leading with characteristic aplomb, holding his own despite the ferocious run-making – he has nine wickets and is only going at 8 runs per over – and clearly on top of his bowling game. All of this is great for the franchises and for the IPL itself, but these are ominous signs for India as they seek to emulate the Class of 2007 and double their tally of T20 World Cup crowns.

Australia have been India’s nemesis in tournament finals at all levels – senior men, junior men and senior women – and while it will be fanciful to predict another Australia-India final at the T20 World Cup in Bridgetown on June 29, Rohit Sharma will have taken more than casual note of the form of Australia’s key players. Of course, he will also be heartened by the fact that several other big names who have outstanding IPL records have yet to hit their straps, though with the tournament just a little past the halfway stage, there is plenty of time for the likes of David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc, especially, to rediscover form.

Maxwell has been the undisputed disappointment of the tournament, with 32 runs from six innings. So out of kilter has he been that, with Royal Challengers Bengaluru also stumbling from one defeat to another, he asked his captain, Faf du Plessis, to be benched. RCB’s fortunes haven’t taken off even in Maxwell’s absence and the mercurial right-hander knows that he can’t regain confidence and his mojo from the sidelines, but his unusual and bold request to be left out points to not just cricketing struggles but also mental fatigue that can snowball massively as the failures stack up.

Warner has been barely passable for Delhi Capitals, who will be without Mitchell Marsh, Australia’s likely T20 captain, for the rest of the tournament. Marsh has flown back home with a hamstring injury, though the prognosis is encouraging from a World Cup point of view. Things aren’t as promising for Starc, the most expensive buy in IPL history at 24.75 crore. Kolkata Knight Riders might be beginning to rue their decision to break the bank; the left-arm swing exponent has taken only six wickets and conceded 11.48 runs per over in his first tilt at the IPL since 2015, hardly the returns the Australian think-tank would have been hoping for. Cameron Green has also been disappointing for RCB, which means a reasonable chunk of the expected T20 World Cup side has yet to fire on all cylinders, but as they say, class will out and it’s surely only a matter of time before Warner, who will retire from international cricket after the World Cup, and the rest are back in the thick of things.

For now, Australia will rejoice in the brazenness of Head, their enforcer in the middle order in Tests and at the top of the tree in the white-ball formats. The head start (pardon the horrible pun) he provides often sets up the innings for the middle order. India will be most concerned about Head whenever the teams meet at the World Cup. And particularly so if they lock horns in the final.

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