The Australian pursuit of a massive victory over Afghanistan to get the run rate boost needed to qualify for the semi-finals could be the catalyst for star quick Pat Cummins to miss Friday’s must-win game in Adelaide.
World Cup winning Australian captain Ricky Ponting conceded the selection panel might need to ponder the idea whether or not captain Aaron Finch recovers from a hamstring issue enough to play.
Australia needs a monster win and Ponting said should Finch recover, his 63 at the Gabba on Monday was enough for the battling captain to hold his spot.
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But the need for a massive victory to boost the defending champion’s net run rate and jump above England into second place in Group 1 could mean going batter heavy.
Having already attracted some criticism for his output during this World Cup, Cummins could be the man to make way to allow Cameron Green to be unleashed.
“If they are thinking about a quick going out, and this is going to be a tough decision for the selectors, but if they are thinking about that, then maybe it is Cummins that goes out and Green comes in,” Ponting said at the MCG on Thursday.
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“They might have the luxury of playing the extra batsman and maybe let Green go to the top and absolutely tee off, or they use him as a floater in the middle order somewhere.
“If they are thinking about a quick going out and this is obviously going to be a tough decision for the selectors, but if they are thinking about that then maybe it is Cummins that goes out and Green comes in.
“Whichever way they go they’re going to have to take a real risk and [throw] caution to the wind and try and win that game as quickly and as comfortably as they can.
“If they lose trying to win it well then that’s the way it is.”
Ponting elevated Josh Hazlewood ahead of both Cummins, whose economy rate at the World Cup is over nine runs an over, and fellow quick Mitchell Starc in the pecking order, but Starc’s blitzkrieg against Ireland, bowling first change, showed his worth to the team.
“I think it‘s been a really good ploy for Starc to not open the bowling, his record in the last 12 or 18 months with the new ball is less than flattering,” Ponting said.
“What they‘ve done with using him outside the first couple of overs and through the middle has actually worked a treat.”
Ponting conceded there would be “questions asked” if Australia, the defending champs, didn’t progress to the semi-finals at a home World Cup.
“If they don‘t make it through there’ll be some questions asked, I’m sure, because I had them in the top three coming here,” Ponting said.
“No one gave Australia a chance in the last one over in the UAE, in conditions that didn‘t suit, but then we’re home in our home conditions that all of these guys have been brought up in and played a lot of cricket.
“There can’t be any excuse as far as preparation is concerned.”