What Australia need to do to win the Tri-series
"There's nothing wrong about getting knocked down, as long as you get right back up," is what Muhammad Ali preached. This is exactly what Australia need to do right now - they were scarred, knocked down and are now being questioned extensively as current World Champions.
It all goes right back to that Third Test against South Africa. Australia were disgraced, distraught and are now devastated in the aftermath. They lost every game, their captain, their vice-captain, their coach, their most prolific run-scorer in Steve Smith, their standout opener in Warner, and their credibility in international circuit post the infamous Sandpaper Gate.
Consequently, the 2015 World Cup winners are languishing at no. 6 in the ICC ODI Rankings.
Seeking some redemption after a 5-0 beating at the hands of England, followed by a disappointing defeat in the one-off T20I game, Australia now travel to Zimbabwe to take on the hosts and the top-ranked T20I side at the moment, Pakistan, in a triangular T20 series.
Here is what they need to do right in order to get back to winning ways:
The senior players need to step up
In the absence of stalwarts, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner, the senior men in the team need to step up and take charge of this new-look Australian side. In addition to being completely overhauled in terms of team and management, the players are also mentally scarred considering what the national team has gone through in the last 3 months.
Hence, the onus falls on the more experienced group in the team to take the ropes and get the side back on its feet. Aaron Finch will lead the Kangaroos on the field for the series while Justin Langer will hope to achieve his first series victory since being appointed the Head Coach after the resignation of Darren Lehmann.
While Finch's stint at the top becomes more crucial than ever in the absence of Smith, the pressure on an off-color Glenn Maxwell mounts as well. The middle order hardly boasts of experienced names barring Maxwell. His form has been worrisome, to say the least. But this is a perfect opportunity for the swashbuckling batsman to escape his dry patch.
Instil faith in the XI
In the recently concluded series against England, we witnessed a lot of changing and chopping in the batting order from Tim Paine's Australia.
Any cricket pundit will tell you that the best way to regain consistency is to find the best combination and keep faith in them. Australia need to keep this in mind when they head to Zimbabwe.
Finch found his feet once he was reinstated at the top of the batting order, Australia need to play the players at positions they are supposed to play at and refrain from shuffling the inexperienced batting order.
Big Bash players need to come to the party
D'arcy Short, Nic Maddinson, Jhye Richardson, Alex Carey, Jack Wildermuth, Mitchell Swepson might not find their names at the top in the international arena, but they are proven stars when it comes to Australia's premier T20 competition, Big Bash League.
The Big Bash League is a stepping stone to the national side quite like the IPL for India. Andrew Tye, for instance, found himself in the national colors after some scintillating performances for the Perth Scorchers in BBL.
Alex Carey had a wonderful season for the Adelaide Strikers and Mitchell Swepson was Brendon McCullum's strike spinner when he played for the Brisbane Heat. Nic Maddinson has always been a star for the Sydney Sixers while Jhye Richardson impressed many and earned a call-up from the national side.
Now, these players find themselves in Justin Langer's (the ex Perth Scorchers coach) Australian T20I side. They have been given the license to express themselves on the field as best as they can and these fresh legs might just be the spur of energy that Australian Cricket needs at the moment.
Will Australia manage to win the Tri-Series? Sound off in the comments below!