x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Clarke says Australians ready to wear elusive Twenty20 crown

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has declared his team firm favourites for the World Twenty20 title.

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has declared his team firm favourites for the World Twenty20 title, insisting they are ready to win the only trophy missing from their bulging cabinet. Australia have won the 50-over World Cup four times - the last three in a row - and have been the dominant side on the Test scene for nearly two decades. Yet the T20 World Cup is the one trophy to elude them. Australia reached the semi-finals in the first edition, but failed to progress beyond the group stages in England last year.

Clarke, however, believes the wait is about to end. "It's very strong team and can adapt to different conditions," the Australia captain said in his pre-match press conference before today's Super Eight match with Sri Lanka. "If we can continue to make big totals, with our bowling and the way we're fielding, it's going to be hard for opposition teams to beat us." Australia started their Super Eight campaign with a crushing 49-run win over India, which was built on the foundation of a 65-ball 104-run partnership for the opening wicket between Shane Watson and David Warner. Clarke hailed the destructive opening duo.

"I believe we have the best two openers in Twenty20 cricket in the world," he said. "They bat fantastically together, left-hand right- hand combination, and both are very aggressive. But if they need to take their time, they aren't too distressed. " Sri Lanka, meanwhile, can boast the most successful batsman at this World Cup. Mahela Jayawardene has scored 279 from the first three games. "He knows how to go about making big scores, not only in the shorter version but in Test matches as well," Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, told Cricinfo.

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi