Australia captain Aaron Finch has little doubt Mitch Marsh would be ready to slot into the side if Marcus Stoinis’ side strain leads to his withdrawal from their World Cup squad.
The injury Stoinis suffered in the loss against India last weekend led to the all-rounder missing out as Australia returned to winning ways against Pakistan and will also sideline him for Saturday’s clash against Sri Lanka at the Oval.
His involvement for the rest of the tournament will be decided in the next few days but Marsh is on standby after linking up with the Australian party.
Finch, flanked by Australia fielding coach Brad Haddin’s two young sons at his press conference, said: “(Stoinis) won’t be available again. He hasn’t bowled yet in his recovery over the last couple of days.
“So having four days between this game and the next game, I think that will be the ideal time to really test him out and assess him.
“But I think over the next five, six days there will be a call made on that, just based on what he can and can’t do.
“We’ve seen him batting and running, no problem. Just he hasn’t tried to bowl yet. Just waiting for the injury to settle down a bit more.”
Marsh was due to travel with Australia’s A side to England this week but flew over a couple of days earlier as cover for Stoinis.
Marsh has played no professional cricket since March while his last 50-over appearance was 18 months ago.
But if Cricket Australia does decide to trigger a formal request to remove Stoinis then Finch would back Marsh to be ready to face Bangladesh at Trent Bridge next Thursday.
Finch said: “The short answer is yes. There is confidence that Mitch will come in and do well if selected, if Stoinis doesn’t recover properly.”
The opener believes Australia, despite three wins from their opening four encounters, have yet to hit top gear in the tournament.
He said: “To come up against different opposition, you’re facing different challenges all the time.
“I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere near our best, which is still a good thing, that we’ve got six points on the board while not playing anywhere near our best cricket.
“But as long as we’re improving, and continue to go up and not go backwards, I think that’s the key. What per cent of 100 per cent game that you get to I think is irrelevant, as long as it’s improving along the way.”
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Dimuth Karunaratne insists Sri Lanka are fully prepared despite a lack of action as they look to get their World Cup back on track against Australia at the Oval.
The inclement weather which has led to four washouts in the space of seven days has hit Sri Lanka hardest, with two of their matches abandoned.
Since they last took to the field against Afghanistan on June 4 in a rain-affected encounter, Australia have played three times but Karunaratne is convinced the lack of game time will not be a hindrance.
Indeed, on what is usually optional training the day before the match, their full squad participated.
“We can’t control the weather,” Karunaratne said at his pre-match press conference. “We couldn’t play those two matches, but we are prepared for the Australian game, and today we have a practice.
“Normally today is an optional day, but we want to train harder before we play against the Australians, so that’s why we are here.”
The Sri Lanka captain is braced for a barrage of short balls from Australia, adding: “I think we know they are going to go really hard against us.
“Some players, they can play really good for the short balls. Some of them, they can’t. But if they think they can go for it, I will say to the players ‘yeah, go for it’, because we need runs, as well.”
Karunaratne confirmed veteran paceman Lasith Malinga will be available after returning briefly to Sri Lanka for his mother-in-law’s funeral while fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep could come into contention if he successfully passes some fielding drills.
After witnessing a repeat of the 2003 World Cup final on Sunday, the Oval prepares to play host to a repeat of the 2007 decider as Sri Lanka take on Australia.
Following a couple of wash-outs, we could finally have a rain-free game as a sunny atmosphere is set to prevail in London.
We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the tie.
Australia yet to hit full potential
Despite winning three of the four games that they have played, Australia are yet to reach their peak. The Kangaroos were among the teams tipped to challenge favourites England but all their wins so far have been uncharacteristic.
Against West Indies, the Aussies endured a top-order collapse and had to depend on no8 batsman Nathan Coulter-Nile to pull them out of trouble. In the next game, they were outplayed by India in all departments.
The Aussies bar David Warner and Aaron Finch produced a sub-par performance against Pakistan and it took a middle-order collapse from the Men in Green to earn the defending champions the two points, despite starting the game on the front foot.
Sri Lankan batsmen need to step on the gas
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Sri Lanka one of the worst batting sides of the tournament so far. Dimuth Karunaratne’s side followed up a sub-150 total against New Zealand by scoring a measly 201 against tournament minnows Afghanistan.
The fact that no player other than the skipper has scored more than 30 runs in both games says a lot about their incompetent show.
The Lankans are now provided an opportunity to make a statement for themselves as they encounter a batting-friendly surface.
It does help that amid experimentation with just four specialist bowlers – as seen against Pakistan – the Aussies are not finding the knack with their bowling.
Warning for Sri Lanka
At his best, there are very few players who can hit the white ball quite as well as David Warner. After a one-year ban, the southpaw has returned to haunt the opposition bowlers like he has done for the majority of his career.
If winning the Orange cap in the Indian Premier League (IPL) wouldn’t suffice as evidence, a half-century against India and a century against Pakistan in the World Cup surely indicate that his ban has not affected the player’s quality one bit.
With good batting conditions and facing a depleted bowling attack, the ingredients are in place for yet another Warner masterclass. Can the 32-year-old deliver in a third consecutive game?