BANGALORE: Australia were far from convincing but their World Twenty20 campaign is back on the rails after Usman Khawaja and Adam Zampa played lead roles in a victory against Bangladesh that draws them level in Group B with Pakistan and India.
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World Twenty20: Australia see off Bangladesh
Australia keep their hopes of qualifying for the ICC World T20 semi-finals alive with a narrow three-wicket win over Bangladesh in India.
Khawaja justified his elevation over Aaron Finch with a typically stylish 58 from 44 balls that ensured the pursuit of 157 was never really in question at a batsman-friendly M Chinnaswamy Stadium despite Australia making tougher work of their run chase than might have been expected.
Steve Smith's side lost seven wickets along the way as they reached the target with nine balls to spare, and while they naturally improved their net run rate they didn't give it the substantial boost they could have.
In a group that could well come down to the wire when it rounds out with Australia taking on India at Mohali on Monday, run quotient may well end up being the decisive factor on who goes through to the last four, with New Zealand already having one foot in the semis after wins over both.
There is clearly still improvement required ahead of Friday's clash with Pakistan, particularly in the middle overs and it was the middle order, not James Faulkner and Peter Nevill, who really should have finished the job off on Monday night.
Zampa also admitted that Australia would "probably be a bit disappointed" that they allowed such a Bangladesh total but defended the hiccups in the run chase.
"When you're chasing those totals I think you can afford to take a few risks there at the end," Zampa said. "That's what we did and it didn't pay off for us tonight but we were confident we'd be able to get a run a ball, and as I said, you can take those risks."
There could be no questioning the contribution of Khawaja, favoured to open over the world's No.1 ranked T20 batsman Finch here. The Victorian's omission has rankled but whatever his merits it's difficult to argue against Khawaja's continued inclusion.
Bangladesh's 5-156, kicked along by off-spinning all-rounder Mahmudullah's 49 from 29, looked respectable on paper but was short of being genuinely competitive against Australia on a flattish wicket.
The Tigers were without a sick Tamin Iqbal, as well as their pair of banned bowlers Arafat Sunny and Taskin Ahmed, and also ran into Zampa (3-23) with his tail up.
One of Zampa's key qualities, and one which all good leg-spinners should have, is his self-confidence. His swagger informs you that he knows he belongs. So does the ability to watch a ball sail beyond the fence or to the rope two or three times and yet not be deterred.
There was another example of him backing himself on Monday night. Already, he had a first T20 international wicket to his name, that of opener Mohammad Mithun, who had caused a modicum of damage with 23 from 22, and he should have had a second in his first over but for Mitch Marsh spilling Shuvagata Hom as the all-rounder raced in from the fence.
In his second over Shuvagata went about making Zampa pay for Marsh's profligacy, plundering a huge six over long-on, then taking him for four through point with the next ball.
Zampa had his revenge, though, seconds later, trapping his prey on the back foot with a faster, shorter-pitched delivery that gave umpire Ian Gould no hesitation in raising his finger.
A third wicket, that of another of Bangladesh's leading lights Shakib Al Hasan (33 from 25), followed via a top edge to Nathan Coulter-Nile at third man.
Having been asked to bowl only the one over against New Zealand last week despite it being a good one, Steve Smith called upon the 23-year-old for the full four on Monday and he didn't disappoint. He was all the more impressive for the fact this was no spinner's paradise.
"It was a funny first three (T20 international) games for me, I hadn't taken a wicket," Zampa said. "So it was a bit of a monkey off my back I guess. I'm happy to contribute in the middle today."
Shane Watson also struck twice to join Mitchell Johnson as Australia's equal leading wicket-taker at World T20s.