Coach Nielsen defends Australian openers

Sunday, February 27, 2011

COLOMBO - Australia’s coach Tim Nielsen Sunday defended his openers, saying they batted slowly when the situation demanded during their first 2011 World Cup match against Zimbabwe and accelerated superby against New Zealand in their next enocunter in Nagpur.

Shane Watson and Brad Haddin batted slowly during their 91-run win over Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad, but Friday they adapted well to a turning track in Nagpur and smashed the slow bowlers for their 133-run stand during their seven-wicket win over New Zealand.

Now as the defending champions prepare to face favourites Sri Lanka, who lost their opening match to Pakistan, Nielsen said his team will try to preserve wickets for a late burst in the final overs.

“I thought they played well in game one. Everyone had this perception that they went slowly. But if Zimbabwe were going to be competitive against us, they needed to take early wickets with their spinners. We’re playing the way we think is the right way to play,” said Nielsen.

“We’re not going to let how India plays or how England plays or anyone else how they’re playing dictate to us what we’re doing. We’re playing the way we know we play best. We’ve had success over here in the last couple of years playing that way,” he said.

“We saw Brad and Shane up the ante a little bit (on Friday) when the wicket was a bit better and there was good pace on the ball. We scored quickly, (three for 207) in 34 overs with plenty of time to spare. For all teams the opening batsmen are going to play a big role,” he said.

Nielsen said that Friday’s win with 16 overs to spare was a step forward for his team.

“We’re certainly not going to go out there thrashing around like a (India’s Virender) Sehwag does. We’re not going to play any differently to what we do best. Friday was another step forward for us in that regard.”

Nielsen maintained the openers will be crucial in the tournament.

“Every side has shown that. India when they made 300, Sehwag and the top order got the runs. You can certainly fight your way through an innings as New Zealand showed (scoring 206 against Australia after being 6-73) and get to what you hope is a competitive score. But unless your top order sets a platform for the rest of your batting in these conditions, it’s very difficult,” he said.

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