Australia are yet to decide who will fill injured opener David Warner’s role at the top of the order in tomorrow’s final Dettol Series ODI match against India, but skipper Aaron Finch has pointed to a surfeit of selection options to try and cover the sizeable loss.
With Warner ruled out of tomorrow’s day-night game at Manuka Oval in Canberra (and the three-match Dettol T20I series to follow), Finch cited three possibilities for his new opening partner as Australia eyes a 3-0 clean sweep against Virat Kohli’s team.
Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey were cited as possible openers, with left-hander Wade’s inclusion as a like-for-like replacement providing the additional benefit of minimal disruption to a batting line-up that has propelled Australia to 350-plus totals in their past two outings.
Finch also noted the fact Australia has wrapped-up the three-match ODI Series allows selectors a little more freedom than would be available if tomorrow’s match was a decider, with a final call expected to be made after inspection of the Manuka pitch at training later today.
“We haven’t picked a team yet, but we’ve got a few options,” Finch said today.
“Whether we go Wadey in the side or Marnus comes up and opens the batting, Alex Carey has done a lot of it in the past.
“But the middle-order has been functioning really well over the last little while.
“That’s the beauty of being two-nil up in the series, you can look to experiment if you want to do that or you can look to play the safe option.”
Wade has not played an ODI for Australia in more than three years, but formed a successful opening combination with Ben McDermott for Tasmania in the domestic one-day competition two summers ago.
Carey was employed at the top of the order alongside Finch in three ODIs last year, while Labuschagne has experience as an opener for Queensland in the Marsh Sheffield Shield and yesterday confirmed he would “love” the opportunity to tackle the role in an ODI.
In pointing out the options Australia has available to them after posting comfortable wins in the first two games of the ODI Series at the SCG, Finch also acknowledged the significance of Warner’s absence.
“It would be great to have him available, no doubt,” said of his opening partner whose fitness for the start of the four-Test Vodafone Series is also in doubt due to the groin injury he sustained while fielding on Sunday night.
“He’s an all-time great in one-day and T20 cricket, I don’t think there’s many better players to have played the game.
“So any team he’s not a part of is going to be slightly weaker but we’ve got guys that can step and really contribute heavily in that role.”
The national selectors – chair Trevor Hohns, coach Justin Langer and George Bailey – must also decide on a replacement for fast bowler Pat Cummins who will be rested for the remainder of the Dettol ODI and T20I matches to focus on Test preparation.
Seamer Sean Abbott, who played his sole ODI against Pakistan in the UAE six years ago, looms as a likely replacement for his New South Wales teammate.
However, Australia has other bowling options within their expanded squad including Andrew Tye (who was added to the squad when Kane Richardson pulled out for family reasons) and uncapped pair Daniel Sams and Cameron Green.
While Green is seen as more of a batting allrounder, a position filled by Moises Henriques in the second ODI at the SCG last Sunday, he has recently returned to bowling and impressed teammate Steve Smith with his capacity to deliver “a heavy ball” in the practice nets.
Green’s fellow allrounder Marcus Stoinis remains unavailable due to a side strain he incurred in the series opener last Friday, and Ashton Agar also provides an all-round option if selectors decide a second spinner is needed alongside Adam Zampa at Manuka.
Finch conceded opening bowler Mitchell Starc had been below his best in the first two matches in which batters have dominated, claiming one wicket at a cost of 147 runs from his 18 completed overs.
But the skipper threw his strong support behind the left-arm quick who battled for control in his opening over of the series last Friday that extended to 11 deliveries and included four wides and a no-ball.
“He hasn’t been at his very best, and you have to understand his standards are a lot higher than what you expect from most other people because of how dominant he’s been over the last eight or nine years, especially in the white-ball formats,” Finch said of his strike bowler.
“He’d love to be swinging the ball and getting it right early on, but the reality is when you’re defending big totals and playing against good players, they’re coming hard at you.
“From my point of view, and chatting to other guys about his technique and little things that his fellow bowlers and the fast-bowling cartel really monitor, they seemed to think that he’s going really well.
“So it’s just a matter of time.
“There’s nowhere to hide in one-day cricket when you’re playing on some really flat wickets with quality opposition.”
Dettol ODI Series v India 2020
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey , Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
First ODI: Australia won by 66 runs
Second ODI: November 29, SCG, 2.40pm AEDT
Third ODI: December 2, Manuka Oval, 2.40pm AEDT
*The matches and travel remain subject to any relevant government restrictions or requirements