Australia have been asked to bowl first as they look to cement a spot in the World Cup semi-finals
Smith ruled out, Aussies make two changes to XI
Australia are yet again a man down for a World Cup match after Steve Smith's lingering vertigo symptoms got the better of him on the morning of their clash with Afghanistan in Mumbai.
Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and chose to bat on a humid afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium as Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh were named for their returns after both missed the 33-run win over England due to concussion and personal reasons, respectively.
Cameron Green is the other omission from the side that officially ended England's World Cup defence on Saturday.
The Aussies will face a spin barrage under lights this evening after Afghanistan picked four slow bowlers, swapping pacemen with Naveen-ul-Haq coming in for Fazalhaq Farooqi.
"We want to bat first because the wicket is good now and are hopeful it will spin and seam in the second innings," said Hashmatullah, whose counterpart Pat Cummins said he would have also batted first.
Australia XI: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Afghanistan XI: Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq
Smith, who noticed symptoms of his latest vertigo episode in the days after the England match, was given every chance to prove he was up to playing in a long fitness test before play on Tuesday.
Despite batting for close to 20 minutes and practicing running between the wickets, Smith remained in obvious discomfort. He still looked eager to play, appearing to push his case in several discussions with coach Andrew McDonald.
The 34-year-old made an ODI century against India in 2020 after suffering a similar vertigo episode in the lead-in to the match.
Here though, Australia's brains trust made the call that Smith should not play.
"Steve struggled a bit in the warm-up so he's going to miss out today," said Cummins. "One of the most pleasing things in this tournament is we've had 14 guys play and they've all done well... long may it continue."
Smith had not looked 100 per cent at training on match eve, telling reporters: "I'm not feeling great at present. I've had a few episodes. I can tell you it's not a fun space to be in."
It robs Australia of one of their better players of spin, which could be crucial against Afghanistan's potent trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb ur Rahman.
Marnus Labuschagne continues to hold his spot in the side despite having loomed all tournament as the man to make way when Australia finally get all their players back. Eight games in, that has still not happened, and Labuschagne has not missed a match.
The Aussies can seal a semi-final berth with a match to play (against Bangladesh on Saturday) while the Afghans' can take a big step towards qualifying for the first time if they can claim another big scalp at this tournament.
They have already toppled three former champions in England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
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