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Patient Stoinis playing the waiting game

All-rounder looking to stake his claim for more regular international opportunities on coming ODI tour of India

Despite being part of five international tours over the past 18 months, Marcus Stoinis is still yet to shake the 'next in line' tag he earned by being one of the best and most consistent performers on the Australian domestic scene.

Stoinis added just two international caps on those five overseas trips; tours to New Zealand twice for one-day matches, to India for Tests and as well as the current ODI series and the United Kingdom for the ICC Champions Trophy in June.

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It’s been a frustrating year that has also included a move home to Western Australia, a potentially serious shoulder injury suffered in May as well as one of the greatest performances of this lifetime and probably the next as well.

It's not hyperbolic to suggest that Stoinis' 146no against the Black Caps at Eden Park last February, an innings that included a record 11 sixes batting at No.7, was one of the best one-day international centuries ever scored by an Australian player.

Yet it wasn't enough for him to hold his spot in the side for the next ODI campaign in the UK, despite the memory of that Auckland masterpiece still being fresh and the fact, as noted by captain Steve Smith at the time, he had bowled as fast as Australia's 'Big Four' quicks in the Edgbaston nets.

There was disappointment on the Test front as well. Having been called up to replace the injured Mitchell Marsh midway through this year's tour of India, Stoinis was overlooked completely when Australia's squad for their next Test assignment to Bangladesh was announced in June, despite having had next to no chance to prove himself or lose form in the interceding three months. 

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But much like his relaxed view on the possibility of an Ashes call-up this summer, Stoinis has learned to take a philosophical approach when it comes to national selection.

"If you're asking me, bloody oath," the 27-year-old told a room of predominantly bemused Indian journalists in Chennai when asked how he rated his chances of taking on England this summer.

"But you'd have to talk to someone else who actually makes that decision because I'm not sure.

"There's a lot of people in the same position who haven't been selected for a while and in every series there are people who are hard done by.

"Obviously I'm ready to go and I've been wanting to play but for one reason or another, selection doesn't go your way.

"But that happens in every single series.

"It's happened from the last Test series in India to the next Test series in Bangladesh.

"Selection is tough and not all of us understand what goes on."

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On Tuesday, Stoinis moved a giant step closer to adding to his tally of international caps after he played a starring role in Australia's 50-over warm-up match against a Board President's XI, putting him in the perfect position to claim a vacant spot in the middle order for the ODI series opener against India on Sunday.

Having walked onto Chepauk Stadium after Australia had lost 3-52 midway through their innings, Stoinis did exactly what he'd done in Auckland more than seven months earlier; cautiously stemmed the bleeding and then unleashed a breath-taking counter-attack, clearing the rope five times and hitting it on four occasions to score 76 from just 60 balls.

It was a stunning shift in gear, but one that came as no surprise to opposing skipper and Indian Premier League teammate Gurkeerat Mann.

"He assessed the situation really well because initially the ball was stopping (in the pitch) a bit," he said.

"He took his time and after that, everybody knows his flow is very fluent and I think he batted amazingly well.

"I hope he'll get many chances (at international level). We're very good friends off the field, we shared the same dressing-room in the IPL, we had a lot of fun and I wish him all the success."

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With no less than six allrounders in Australia's 14-man squad, just where Stoinis fits into the XI is yet to be seen, although his knock at No.6 on Tuesday proved again that he has both the defensive game to handle an early collapse and the attacking power to accelerate late in the innings.

When it was put to him that there is room for only one of he and James Faulkner in the side, Stoinis again deferred to a higher power - the national selection panel - in his answer.

Although he did allow himself a brief moment of speculation that after another year on the fringes, his international career is about to re-launch.

"I'm no selector, but maybe there's room for both," he said with a wry smile.

"We'll see."


Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures


September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur


T20 Fixtures


October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad