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Defeats, bubbles and absent players: how Australia threatened to unravel

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The last 18 months have provided a challenging time for the men’s team

In May 2020 Australia were ranked No.1 in Tests and T20Is. The Test team had retained the Ashes away and won seven consecutive Tests at home. They had also won four consecutive T20I series including away victories in India and South Africa. Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit they have lost five consecutive T20I series and a home Test series to India with reports of tensions between coach Justin Langer and the players running rampant in the media. Here’s how it unfolded.

September 2020

Australia toured England for three T20Is and three ODIs with a full-strength squad, their first assignment since Covid-19 halted world cricket. In the first T20I they needed 39 runs from 39 balls with nine wickets in hand and lost. Australia also dropped the second game to lose the series but won the dead rubber. They then won the opening ODI before succumbing to another batting collapse from a winning position in game two. Langer gave the group a verbal lashing post-match for not learning from their mistakes in the opening T20I. It secured the desired response in the decider with Australia pulling off a stunning chase off the back of twin centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey to win the series, which the coach described as one of the best series wins he’s been involved in.

November 2020

Australia thumped India in the first two ODIs of the home summer thanks to two masterclasses from Steve Smith to win the ODI series with a game to spare.

December 2020-January 2021

Injuries and the need to rest players from the biosecure bubbles saw Australia lose the T20I series with Aaron Finch, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, and Marcus Stoinis missing matches. Australia were back to full strength for the Test series and won the first match in Adelaide when they bowled India out for 36. But they lost the series from there against a second-string India side with Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, and R Ashwin all missing the decider at the Gabba. Australia’s batters failed twice in Melbourne, they dropped critical catches on the final day in Sydney to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory, before the bowlers ran out of gas at the Gabba with Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant engineering a famous chase to claim the series.

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