The quick bowler’s first delivery set the tone against South Africa in a superb powerplay display
Of the three quicks, Hazlewood is the one who has made the late surge into Australia’s T20 plans after finally being able to get a run of games in West Indies and Bangladesh before a successful stint with Chennai Super Kings.
After discussions about how he needed to adapt to the T20 format, it was during that spell with Super Kings, where he worked with Stephen Fleming and Eric Simons, that Hazlewood was encouraged to utilise the strengths that make him such a fine bowler in Tests and ODIs.
ESPNcricinfo’s data shows that during the IPL, his deliveries logged as length or short-of-a-good-length had a combined economy rate of 7.40. When he went full or short that ballooned out to 12.85.
It could not have gone much better in Abu Dhabi. First delivery he found the edge of Rassie van der Dussen with a short-of-a-length delivery and then, having seen Quinton de Kock play on via his thigh pad, he kept Heinrich Klassen scoreless for five balls.
“I’ve probably gone the opposite way now,” he said of his T20 thinking. “Chatting about how batters are probably expecting that you to change if you are hit for four or six. Think the wickets are a little different here as well, but it’s about keep doing the same thing and make them hit fours and sixes off your good deliveries – just above the stumps, a hard length. That seemed to work for the last few weeks in the IPL and again [against South Africa]. You have to weight it up and move forward with what works best.
“Every game is different and that’s what I’ve learned over the last few weeks. It’s about getting everything in order at training and preparing yourself for anything, then summing it up as a bowling group once you are out there.”
There was a glimpse of the alternative way things can go when Hazlewood bowled his last over, the 17th of the innings, which began with Aiden Markram swatting him over deep midwicket for six in what was the joint-most expensive over of the innings costing 12. Australia will also come up against batting line-ups with more confidence during the group stage.
“You have to weigh up where the boundaries are bigger, who you are bowling at, so it’s about thinking on your feet and preparing for every situation,” Hazlewood said of still having the need to adjust. “There’s certainly a place for line and length then there’s times where it doesn’t work.”
Having played their first game in the day time, Australia’s next two outings are evening matches against Sri Lanka and England in Dubai. Other teams have focused on the dew factor – England went as far as training with wet balls while Virat Kohli said it had a bit of an impact against Pakistan – but Hazlewood did not see it as being decisive.
“The conditions don’t change a lot there. They probably change more at Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The Dubai wicket maintains it pretty well. There might be a slight advantage in batting second.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo