Marnus Labuschagne appears to be the odd man out as Australia faces a selection headache for their final two games before the Cricket World Cup semis. Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell both missed Australia's win over England on Saturday, but the all-rounders will likely be available for their clash with Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green were brought in to replace Marsh and Maxwell against England, but it could be Labuschagne who makes way when the all-rounders come back into the side. Labuschagne top-scored against England with 71 off 83 balls, but was thought to be holding Stoinis' spot while he was out with a calf injury.
With the whole Aussie squad available for selection against Afghanistan, it might be Green and Labuschagne who miss out. Labuschagne was been in decent form throughout the World Cup, but with him and Steve Smith in the middle order they have two players who perform the same role of stabilising the innings.
Neither Labuschagne or Smith score at a particularly fast rate, meaning there probably isn't room for both in the side when explosive power hitting is preferred. “We want the best team out on the field, and unfortunately, I’m missing out,” Green admitted after scoring 47 off 52 against England.
“We’re playing some great cricket, winning five in a row, so we must be doing something right. I think they’re (Maxwell and Marsh) straight back in. We’re so excited to get Mitch back and then Maxi, I think it’s an eight-day (concussion) protocol (that ends) on the (match) day, so I think he’s all good to go.”
Green threw his support behind Labuschagne, saying: “We know how reliable Marnus is, especially when you go two down in the power play, and it was pretty tough at the start. “He is batting beautifully at the moment, ever since he came back into the ODI side. We were all good in our camp. We knew India and South Africa were the two best teams leading in.”
Marsh flew home to be with his family after the death of his grandfather, but will be back in time for the Afghanistan game. As for Maxwell, he was concussed when he fell off the back of a golf cart last week but will likely be available on Tuesday.
Australia learn likely opponents in World Cup semi-finals
With games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh remaining, the Aussies are in the box seat to secure a spot in the semi-finals. And India's thumping win over South Africa on Sunday means it will likely be an Australia-South Africa clash in the final four.
Virat Kohli celebrated his 35th birthday by equalling Sachin Tendulkar's all-time record with his 49th career ODI century. Kohli made 101 not out off 121 balls to help India smash South Africa by 243 runs.
Kohli's ton moved him level with fellow Indian batting great Tendulkar, as he powered his side to 5-326 at Eden Gardens. South Africa then crashed to 83 all out in just 27.1 overs - their second-lowest total in ODI history.
"I am grateful to God for giving me the chance to play and contribute to the team's success," Kohli said. "It's great to get a hundred on my birthday in front of this big crowd at this great venue."
India are undefeated with eight wins from eight matches (16 points), while South Africa are second with 12 points. The Aussies sit third on 10 points, while New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all on eight points and battling for a spot in the semis.
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