ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Untimely setbacks force selection re-think
Injury to Marcus Stoinis and Taunton's unseasonably wet weather set to lead to shake-up of Australia’s XI to take on Pakistan
Louis Cameron in Taunton
12 June 2019, 06:15 PM AEST
Unseasonably wet weather looms as a major factor in selection discussions for Australia, who have been forced to radically alter the balance of their side following an untimely injury to key allrounder Marcus Stoinis.
Shaun Marsh and Jason Behrendorff appear the two most likely candidates to come into the XI to face Pakistan on Wednesday after Stoinis was ruled out with a side strain he sustained in their defeat to India.
Mitch Marsh was on his way over to England on Tuesday to join the touring party as cover, but he won't immediately be available for selection as Australia wait to determine the severity of Stoinis' injury.
Should they replace Stoinis in their official 15-man squad, he would not be able to return to play later in the tournament.
Captain Aaron Finch revealed Stoinis had returned to bowl even after hurting his side against India, while he also batted, but was knocked over for a second-ball duck.
"It was towards the back end of his second spell and he came back and bowled two overs at the death," said Finch. "He was in some discomfort and it wasn't ideal, but he still managed to bowl a couple of overs.
"Speaking to guys who have done a side (injury) before, they say you can generally get through a game towards the end, but it's tough to get going after you've cooled down.
"(We're) not exactly sure on how many games he'll miss. That's why Mitch is flying over. It's still being assessed. Over the next couple of days, we'll have a clearer picture on what that looks like."
Finch said Australia are open to replacing Stoinis with a specialist bowler and bumping wicketkeeper Alex Carey up to No.6.
A rain-shortened game could make that strategy more appealing, with Behrendorff seemingly front of the queue if they go down that route after coach Justin Langer revealed the left-armer had been close to winning selection against India on Sunday.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon and paceman Kane Richardson are also options, though it would be unusual for the Aussies to play a second spinner alongside incumbent Adam Zampa in wet conditions on a ground that ranks among the smallest at the tournament.
Shaun Marsh shapes as a more conventional replacement and has been unfortunate to miss selection during the tournament having been Australia's most reliable 50-over batsman during the 12-month absences for Steve Smith and David Warner.
But if the elder Marsh brother were to replace Stoinis against Pakistan, that would leave Finch having to rely on Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and potentially even himself to make up the balance of the fifth bowler's overs.
"We're going to have to juggle around that allrounder spot," Finch said.
"We've got to find a few more overs now, whether we play the extra batter or extra bowler, we'll wait and see, and especially tomorrow with the conditions.
"It's one of those things we'll have to weigh up and have a look and have a think about it this afternoon and come up with what looks like the best XI to beat Pakistan."
The handful of Australians who elected to train on Tuesday were confined to Somerset's two available indoor nets due to rain, as the quaint Taunton ground's wicket square remained under covers in the morning.
Puddles pooled on parts of the playing surface and while more rain is forecast for early Wednesday morning, local officials are hopeful they'll get a game in after the ground's drainage was received a welcome upgrade in 2017.
The UK has already experienced twice the monthly average of rain for June and after matches on Monday and Tuesday were washed out, the ICC released a statement reaffirming that reserve days for group-stage matches were not a realistic possibility.
Australia thumped a severely undermanned Pakistan side 5-0 in the UAE in their most recent ODI series before the World Cup, but Sarfraz Ahmed's side have since regained seven first-choice players.
The Pakistan skipper suggested both sides would likely want to bowl first on Wednesday given the conditions.
"Definitely if the match is short, the planning will change," said Sarfraz. "(When) the weather is overcast like that every team (would) want to win the toss, definitely want to bowl first."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE