Usman Khawaja has cemented his place in the batting line-up.
Usman Khawaja has cemented his place in the batting line-up.

Series win closes rotating door for World Cup

AFTER two years of chopping and changing, the Australian one-day team to defend the World Cup looks locked in.

The 3-2 series victory in India also raised doubts whether banned batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner are automatic inclusions in the side.

Since Australia's previous one-day series victory, against Pakistan in January 2017, the team has been in a state of flux. There's been three captains, four wicketkeepers and a dozen opening combinations.

After a 2-1 home defeat by South Africa in November, selectors bit the bullet, picked batsmen not bashers and settled on a plan for the World Cup in England and Wales, starting on May 30.

The stirring triumph in India, the first time Australia has come from 2-0 down to win a five-match series, was clinched with Thursday's 35-run victory in Delhi.

"People have written us off for quite a while now," captain Aaron Finch said after the match. "

We always knew the plans and the style that we wanted to play are all there, can win us the World Cup. It's about ourselves believing we're good enough."

Steve Smith and David Warner’s formal reintegration will start earlier than expected.
Steve Smith and David Warner’s formal reintegration will start earlier than expected.

They believe now, and most are assured of being in the 15-man World Cup squad.

Warner, Smith and fast bowler Mitchell Starc, when passed fit, come in. Andrew Tye and Jason Behrendorff or Nathan Coulter-Nile, who are in India, likely go out.

The last man in, Ashton Turner, could miss out despite his Mohali heroics, only because Shaun Marsh, who was dropped for the Delhi decider, has four hundreds in his past 12 ODI innings.

Someone has to way for Smith and Warner but the recent performances of Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb have lessened the demand for them to play in Australia's opening World Cup clash against Afghanistan.

Khawaja, man of the series in India, scored twin centuries, Hanscomb got one too, and is averaging nearly 50 since he was reinserted in to the Aussie middle order.

Peter Handscomb was rock solid in the series.
Peter Handscomb was rock solid in the series.

But Langer said none of his men seemed distracted by personal ambitions, and they couldn't afford to be.

"It's a real danger time in Australian cricket for a lot of individuals because of World Cup selection," Langer said.

"The trap is - and it's really normal for humans to be thinking about getting picked - if you put the emphasis on yourself, you tend to put too much pressure on, and you don't go well and we (the team) don't go well.

"That's why I've been so pleased with this group of players, it's been about 'we' - we've talked about 'we'."

Australia now travels to Dubai for a five-match ODI series against Pakistan beginning next Friday, the final chance for players to impress before selectors name a 15-man World Cup squad which has to be finalised by April 23.

Warner and Smith will begin their World Cup preparation in the Indian Premier League, before joining the ODI squad for warm-up games against New Zealand in Brisbane in May

News Corp Australia


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