There’s only a select few who can enter the upcoming T20 World Cup after claiming this season’s IPL title, but Josh Hazlewood is one of them.
The Aussie pace bowler, renowned for his nagging line and length in the test match and one-day sphere, is as confident as he’s ever been heading into a T20 series after playing a strong role in the Chennai Super Kings’ romp to another IPL crown this month.
But he’s immediately switched to the impending T20 World Cup, where he believes the Australian crew that has finally been pieced together is ready to claim some more silverware.
“We haven’t had the same team on board for the last two years, it’s been different guys resting here and there,” Hazlewood said.
“To have this team out together for a World Cup, the ranking says one thing, but you look around the group and it says another.”
The Australians might not initially look like World Cup challengers when you notice their world ranking in T20 international cricket – they sit at seventh behind Bangladesh. But the rotating door of teams that have been selected in recent series due to injury and clashing schedules means the national team assembled in the UAE now is the strongest T20 side that has played in Aussie colours in years.
For Hazlewood, who isn’t traditionally known for his T20 bowling skills compared to fast bowler mates Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins, his involvement with Chennai’s title-winning run has taught him lots about the shortened game.
“It’s obviously a very experienced team, and I haven’t played a lot of T20 cricket so it’s good to learn on the run, and it was great to win the final,” Hazlewood said.
“You walk past the corridors in Chennai and see the trophies and what they’ve done, but it felt good to be a part of it and to rebound after missing the finals last season.”
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Despite lacking in recent T20 experience, Hazlewood’s efforts for Chennai and the Sydney Sixers in the BBL has led to plenty of titles in the short format. In these snippets of T20 cricket, Hazlewood is comfortable with the variety of skills he has developed ahead of the world cup.
“Every game is different, you learn a lot each game,” he said.
“I feel pretty confident in my role now, it’s pretty similar for both Australia and Chennai, I bowl a couple of overs at the start and a couple at the end.
“I’m now confident with every situation I’m in, you can’t dominate every moment of T20 cricket as a bowler as there’s just so many different elements, but I’m feeling good about my game.”
Another Aussie who has adjusted wonderfully to the arid conditions in the UAE is Glenn Maxwell, who dominated with the bat in the back half of the IPL to put his name in lights heading into this World Cup. Having bowled to him, Hazlewood is excited to have the dynamic all-rounder on his side going into the tournament.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s been around a few IPL franchises now and he’s seemed to have stuck in the middle order at Bangalore,” he said.
“He dominated plenty of matches, he’s such a nightmare to bowl to. Consistency is key for him and he seems to have found that.”
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