Aaron Finch may have played his last game at the T20 World Cup, with concerning images painting a grim picture for the Aussie captain.
Finch has been battling a hamstring injury ahead of Friday night's must-win clash against Afghanistan at Adelaide Oval.
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Judging by pictures and reports from Australia's training session on Thursday, the skipper may already be preparing for the worst, with Finch restricted to limited involvement.
The 35-year-old - who along with gun batter Tim David has been under a hamstring injury cloud - reportedly looked in discomfort when trying to complete shuttle runs in Thursday's session.
According to onlookers, he spent most of the session speaking with Australia coach Andrew McDonald, his likely replacement skipper Matthew Wade and Cameron Green - the allrounder set to take Finch's place at the top of the Aussie batting order if he is ruled out.
Pictures on social media showed Finch speaking with teammates during Australia's net session, without pads on and with his hands in his pockets.
Aaron Finch mainly just spent Australia’s training session with his hands in his pockets & having chats with many of the key players in the side, including Matthew Wade who would take over the reins if indeed he’s out of the #AusvAfg clash in Adelaide #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/aPi9778Mh9
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) November 3, 2022
Australia knows they must win big against Afghanistan to have any hopes of progressing to the semi-finals, with wins for group rivals New Zealand and England all but likely to end the home nation's Cup defence.
Selection chief George Bailey says the skipper and David would be given every chance to prove their fitness, but the Aussies won't take any chances if either player is not 100%.
It means if Finch is ruled out, he may have played his last game in Australian colours, with the skipper's future unclear beyond the World Cup.
Finch says it's not something that he's been thinking about and insists that he will not put the team's World Cup campaign at risk if he has any injury concerns whatsoever.
“It won‘t make it harder one bit,” Finch said about the prospect of having played his last game. If I feel like one per cent (doubt) would be compromising the side‘s performance, I won’t play," he said.
David was in "exactly the same boat", the skipper added.
"You don't want to compromise the team performance by having a guy go down who comes in with a niggle," Finch said.
Aussies face must-win clash with Afghans
The fitness clouds hover as Australia face the moment of truth in their T20 cup defence - lose to the Afghans and the dream is over.
Win, and it still might not be enough to advance to the semi-finals.
Australia are third in their group behind England and leaders New Zealand, with all three nations on five points.
The Kiwis play Ireland in Adelaide on Friday afternoon before Australia's game, while England meet Sri Lanka in the last game of the group on Saturday.
Should the three favoured nations win, net run-rate will decide the two who progress to the semi-finals.
Finch said there would be number-crunching, but not at the expense of losing focus on the primary goal: beating Afghanistan.
"We will go through all the scenarios to make sure that we're crossing our t's and dotting our i's and just so that we have got a clear mind on what we need to achieve," Finch said.
"First and foremost, we have got to try and get the two points (for a win)."
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