Cricket

Warner or Khawaja? Australia yet to decide on Finch's opening partner


OPENING DILEMMA

Australia face some interesting selection dilemmas for their World Cup playing XI, starting with the opening pair © Getty

With Australia picking three openers for the upcoming World Cup held in England, the think-tank is faced with the conundrum of selecting the batting partner for Aaron Finch. Finch, the Australian captain as well as their opening batsman, said that the management hasn’t yet decided between David Warner and Usman Khawaja for the other opener’s slot in the eleven.

“There’s going to be plenty to think about over the next 6-8 weeks … to try and find our best combination and the best way to structure up our side,” Finch said after Australia named their 15-man squad on Monday (April 15). “Davey’s record at the top is unbelievable and Uzzie’s been in great nick recently. Whichever way we go, there’s scope to mix and match that as we go through the tournament. We’ll work that out, there’s nothing set in stone right now.

“I think all three of us could (bat at No.3). I’ve probably got the least experience out of all three of us in that position in limited-overs cricket. It’s something we’ll juggle and tinker with. I think a left-right combination is probably the way we’ll go, it just depends on which left-hander (opens),” he added.

The enterprising batsman spoke highly of Khawaja’s recent run, during which the southpaw has compiled 769 runs over his last 13 ODIs. During that period, he has also essayed a couple of hundreds.

“Khawaja is a class player and the form that he’s been in over the last six months in one-day cricket has been unbelievable. He’s done everything he can, he’s got big runs and big hundreds in important games and when a series has been on the line, so that’s a huge thing. And when he gets in, he’s so hard to stop as well.”

Finch also backed Smith to find a place in the playing XI and shine brightly in the World Cup. Both Warner and Smith made a return to playing competitive cricket in the ongoing IPL after recovering from their respective elbow injuries. “I’ll say yes (Smith’s selection); the short answer is yes. All of that stuff is up for debate. Now that the squad’s been picked and we’ve got 15 to pick from, it makes things a lot clearer and we can start mapping that stuff out. When you’re still looking at 18 or 19 players to find the 11, I think it’s a lot tougher.

“As world class players you always put pressure on yourself to perform and I think that’s what great players do well, they (Warner and Smith) perform under pressure when they’re needed. Obviously the form that Davey has been in has been unbelievable in India. I know that he’s as hungry as he’s ever been to perform well for Australia. I don’t see that being an issue at all for him. Steve has probably been a bit slower to start and his injury has probably held him back slightly. But we’ve seen in the past that they are two of the great players in international cricket. I’ve got no doubts that they’ll be up and going and firing,” he said.

Finch wasn’t part of the selection meeting that picked the squad but he said that himself, selectors and head coach are mostly on the “same page”. “Nine times out of 10, maybe 49 out of 50, everyone’s on a same page or a very similar page. And you’re generally tossing up whether to play an extra bowler or an extra allrounder, something like that. We’re generally all on the same page anyway, but at times it’s important to have good healthy debate. I think that keeps everyone accountable and it keeps everyone on their toes.”

© Cricbuzz



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