David Warner made a statement with a blazing century in Sydney Premier cricket on Saturday, but the national selectors may be forced into rethinking whether he and Steve Smith have an automatic ticketto the World Cup.
It's taken almost a year for their replacements in the one-day international side to make it difficult for the pair to return to the XI, such has been the extended poor form of the team.
Usman Khawaja has been in strong ODI form recently.Credit:AP
The win locked the series at 2-2 heading into the decider in Dehli on Wednesday. That the Australians have rebounded having lost the opening two games has reinforced a fight in this side that has been missing, at times, in a year when upheaval and introspection has been more of a game than the cricket itself.
"I think it's just about guys taking their opportunities when they have them … which is all you can ask at this time," skipper Aaron Finch said.
This latest victory also came with all-rounder Marcus Stoinis on the sidelines with a broken thumb. Stoinis has been a mainstay of a disjointed side but in his place up stepped Turner with some late power hitting, including 68 off his final 19 balls.
David Warner was in blazing form on the weekend.Credit:AAP
Khawaja still has work to do on rotating the strike but a maiden ODI century in game three in Ranchi and another big knock on Sunday now prompts the question of whether he should remain as Aaron Finch's opening partner, provided he retains strong form through the five-match series against Pakistan.
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor, speaking on Channel Nine's Sports Sunday, left Khawaja out of his World Cup XI.
His overall record, one ton in 25 ODIs at an average of 39.36 (strike rate 82.47) is respectable but could be better for a man of his talents.
The belief is that now he is fitter, has dropped weight and knows how to reach three figures, then more big scores will come. We will see.
Finch found his groove with 93 in Ranchi but disturbingly was again bowled through the gate on Sunday for a second-ball duck.
However, there is more to his selection than runs, for as Taylor pointed out, he is a strong character, one Australia will need when Smith and Warner return.
Handscomb remains an enigma, for he hasn't been able to lock in either a Test or ODI spot but is the type of character – and talent – this team needs.
Like Khawaja, he has a respectable ODI record, averaging 34.57 at a great clip of 98.57 runs per 100 balls. He is more than capable of filling the No.4 spot come England but runs against Pakistan will be needed to edge Smith.
Shaun Marsh has long been locked in for the No.3 spot.
Maxwell has gone from facing an uncertain future after last November's ODI series against South Africa to surely being a lock for a top five spot.
He was used in a "floating" role on Friday, elevated to No.3 to maintain the rage after Khawaja and Finch had put on 193. He responded well, crunching 43 off 31 balls, helping his side score more consistently against spin. In Mohali, he was used at No.5 and had thumped 23 off 13 before he fell lbw attempting a switch hit – the type of dismissal we haven't seen from him for a while.
Of course, Smith and Warnerare capable of winning a Australia a World Cup match. That's something Australia will have to consider come the tournament opener against Afghanistan on June 1, when six wins from nine pool games will probably be needed to make the semi-finals.
They will be in the squad but it can only be a good thing for Australia's World Cup defence if runs elsewhere mean their spots in the XI are at least debatable.
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