Australia have added Peter Handscomb to the squad for the India limited-overs series as a cover for the injured opener Aaron Finch.
It has been reported that Finch had aggravated a calf-injury during the team’s nets sessions in Chennai on Thursday. A scan later revealed that the opener will need to sit-out the initial matches of the five-match ODI series starting in Chennai on Sunday.
Cricket Australia have decided to let Finch remain with the squad in India as they continue to assess his injury. It was initially feared that the 30-year-old right-hander would be ruled out of the entire series but the team management now believe Finch could become available to play after the first three matches.
“Aaron re-aggravated his pre-existing calf injury during warm-up at training yesterday,” Bupa Support Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“He has had a scan in Chennai and although we believe it is not a serious recurrence, he will not be available for the first few one-day matches here in India.
“He will remain with the squad whilst we assess the injury and establish his return to play timelines.”
Nevertheless, Handscomb will fly into Chennai on Saturday from Melbourne to join up with the squad as cover and shall be available for selection for Sunday’s game.
Handscomb was a part of the Aussie squad for the recently concluded tour to Pakistan and had returned home to Melbourne following the conclusion of the two-match Test series.
The 26-year-old batsman has already had a taste of the conditions in India earlier this year when Steve Smith’s men had come over for a fiercely contested four-match Test series which saw the hosts edging the visitors 2-1.
The Victorian had played a match-saving unbeaten 72 in the final innings of the Ranchi Test where the Aussies had held on for a draw on the final day.
Handscomb hasn’t had the best of times in the 50-over format so far having played only four innings in the five matches he has played.
After announcing himself with a well made 82 against Pakistan on his ODI debut against Pakistan earlier this January, the right-handed batsman has struggled in the innings to follow since then with only eight runs in three matches.
His last 50-over appearance came against New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee series in February this year where he failed to even open his account.
It will be interesting to see whether Australia go in with Handscomb to partner David Warner at the top or persist with uncapped all-rounder Hilton Cartwright who opened the innings during the visitor’s only warm-up game against the Board President’s XI.
Cartwright was dismissed for a duck in the game which the Aussies won by a 103 runs.
Meanwhile, it seems opening woes are not limited to just the visitors with India’s Shikhar Dhawan on Thursday ruling himself out for the first three ODI games due to personal reasons.
The two sides go head-to head in the first game at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Sunday.
India coach Ravi Shastri has given his unequivocal backing to MS Dhoni, stating he is still the best wicket-keeping option available.
There had been doubts raised about the future of Dhoni’s spot in the squad following chief selector MSK Prasad’s statement prior to India’s tour of Sri Lanka.
Prasad had stated that no member of the squad, including Dhoni, was assured of a spot in the team going forward.
The Ranchi maverick proved all detractors wrong in the limited-overs series against the Islanders, though, where India romped away to a 5-0 whitewash.
Dhoni played match-winnings knocks of 45, 67 and 49, all unbeaten, in the ODI series while also becoming the first player in history to complete 100 stumping dismissals.
And his assured performances for the Indian middle-order in times of crisis have not gone unnoticed in the eyes of the head coach.
“Dhoni is still the best wicket-keeper in the world and he is the quickest. The break from Test cricket has been great for Dhoni. He is an asset to the Indian team. He is an elder statesman in the dressing room,” Shastri told India Today.
“MS Dhoni is a massive influence on the team. He is a living legend in the dressing room and an ornament to the game. By no means or by any stretch of imagination he is finished or even half finished yet.
“If anyone thinks so, they are mistaken and they have another one coming. There are in for some surprises. The old dog has plenty to offer,” he added.
The fact that Dhoni remains the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the country was also not lost on the Indian coach.
“How do you pick players? When they are good. Dhoni is the best limited-overs keeper in the country. Forget his batting stats, what else do you want. Just because he has played for so many years, you are thinking about a replacement?
“He is the best in the country. Would you look to replace Sunil Gavaskar with when he was 36-years-old or Sachin Tendulkar when he was 36? Dhoni is still the best in the business, so what is the need to even entertain those thoughts,” Shastri asked.
The fact remains that even at 36, Dhoni remains supremely fit and his running between the wickets still puts others in the squad to shame.
With the lack of experience in the Indian middle-order, the former India skipper remains the best bet to take the wicket-keeping slot in the World Cup 2019.
Steve Smith’s Australia threw a warning at India ahead of the limited-overs series with a comprehensive 103-run victory over the BCCI Board President’s XI in their only warm-up game at Chennai on Tuesday.
Smith won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat on a flat and dry Chennai wicket. His decision was vindicated by the batsmen as the visitors put up an imposing score of 347-7 in their 50 overs.
David Warner and Hilton Cartwright opened the batting for the Australians and the former looked in imperious touch after his exemplary performances in the recently concluded tour of Bangladesh.
The left-hander struck 11 boundaries in his 48-ball 64 before being dismissed by Kushang Patel. His partner Cartwright did not have the best of introductions to India as he was dismissed for a duck by pacer Avesh Khan.
Smith was looking solid in his circumspect innings of 55 off 68 deliveries before he fell to promising young spinner Washington Sundar. On the other end, Travis Head looked fluent as he smashed five boundaries and a massive six before being dismissed for 65 runs.
Glen Maxwell, who received the biggest cheer from the local crowd when walking in to bat, failed to make the most of the conditions on offer as he fell for just 14 to become the second victim of Sundar.
It was all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and wicket-keeper Matthew Wade who provided the fireworks for Australia in the death-overs.
Australia smashed 347/7 in 50 overs in warmup game against India Board President XI and remember this name Marcus Stoinis..
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) September 12, 2017
The pair laid down a solid case for the number six and seven batting-order slots as their counter-attack took the Aussies well beyond the 300 mark. Stoinis was particularly destructive as he hit five towering sixes and four boundaries in his 60-ball 76 before falling in the penultimate over.
Wade was equally punishing on the bowlers as he smashed an unbeaten 45 off just 24 deliveries which included five maximums.
In reply the President’s XI could never get going as none of the batsmen failed to make the most of their starts. Young left-arm spinner Ashton Agar was impressive for the visitors as he picked up four wickets to help Australia bowl out the hosts for 244 runs in the 49th over.
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) September 12, 2017
Opener Shreevats Goswami top scored for the President’s XI with 43 runs before being bowled by Stoinis. Pacer Kane Richardson picked up two wickets as Adam Zampa, James Faulkner and Stoinis shared one-wicket apiece, while Nathan-Coulter Nile and Pat Cummins went wicketless.
The Aussies will now take on Virat Kohli’s India in the first of the five-match ODI series starting on Sunday at the same venue.