Australia are set to have all 15 players to pick from for the first time this World Cup as they eye off a win that will confirm their semi-final spot
Selection conundrum awaits with Marsh, Maxwell returns
Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh are both on track to return for Australia's clash with World Cup surprise packets Afghanistan, prompting what Pat Cummins admitted will be an agonising selection conversation.
After beating England in Ahmedabad on Saturday to put themselves one more win away from confirming a semi-final berth, the Aussies for the first time in the tournament look set to have all 15 of their squad members available for this week's match at the famed Wankhede Stadium.
Marsh flew home to Perth earlier this week due to the poor health of his maternal grandfather Ross, who died on Friday. The allrounder was expected to rejoin Australia's squad in Mumbai on Sunday and the team has indicated he will be available to play on Tuesday.
Maxwell meanwhile has been recovering well from the head knock he suffered following a golf-cart mishap earlier this week. He watched the England match from the team dugout and might have been considered right to play if not for justifiably strict concussion protocols.
"Got Maxi and Mitchy who will be back in at some stage. They've had great tournaments so far, so we feel like we've got a whole squad who can walk out and perform when we need them to," captain Cummins told the host broadcaster following the 33-run win over their Ashes foes.
"Everyone's desperate to play so we're going to be struggling to pick an XI next week."
Maxwell batted for the best part of an hour in the nets on Friday night after completing a series of running drills, having been managed through a gradual return to full physical activity.
Cameron Green put in his best performance of the tournament against England after coming into the side due to the absence of the two first-choice allrounders but is resigned to dropping back out of the XI.
"We want the best team out on the field and unfortunately I'm missing out," said Green, who scored 47 off 52 balls.
"We're playing some great cricket, winning five in a row, so we must be doing something right.
"I think they (Maxwell and Marsh) are straight back in. We're so excited to get Mitch back and then Maxi, I think it's an eight-day protocol (that ends) on the day (of the Afghanistan match) so I think he's all good to go."
Marnus Labuschagne has been viewed as the likely man to make way when Australia regained all their main pieces.
The right-hander was initially left out of Australia's World Cup squad altogether but surged back into favour after getting a lifeline during August's ODI tour of South Africa in September, incidentally after Green went out of the side when a Kagiso Rabada bouncer struck him in the helmet.
Labuschagne has since played every match of the World Cup so far and is behind only David Warner among his side's leading run scorers, top-scoring with 71 against England after the Aussies lost two early wickets.
"He batted beautifully, we know how reliable Marnus is, especially when you go two down in the Powerplay and it was pretty tough at the start," said Green.
"He is batting beautifully at the moment, ever since he came back into the ODI side since my concussion, he's looking beautiful. He's doing really well at the moment."
Australia are wary of an Afghanistan side that has already claimed the scalps of England and Pakistan among their four wins so far.
The teams batting first in the tournament's three previous games in Mumbai have all posted scores of more than 350, but India's bowlers found enough assistance when they rolled Sri Lanka for only 55 there earlier this week.
Getting familiar with the venue could be important for Australia given they could be back there the following week for a semi-final.
"I don't think you can take anyone lightly at this tournament. (Afghanistan) are playing some fantastic cricket. They're going to be a challenge as well," Mitchell Starc told Star Sports.
"We've seen the last couple of wickets at the Wankhede, there's a bit of nip and it changes a fair bit in the second innings. We saw India bowl fantastic the other night when it swung around. Maybe a bit in it for the bowlers which would be nice."
Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures
October 8: Lost to India by six wickets
October 12: Lost to South Africa by 134 runs
October 16: Beat Sri Lanka by five wickets
October 20: Beat Pakistan by 62 runs
October 25: Beat Netherlands by 309 runs
October 28: Beat New Zealand by five runs
November 4: Beat England by 33 runs
November 7: v Afghanistan, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT
November 11: v Bangladesh, Pune, 4pm AEDT
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa