ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Khawaja, Coulter-Nile in for Aussies
Australia bowling first in their World Cup opener after Afghanistan won the toss
1 June 2019, 10:00 PM AEST
Usman Khawaja and Nathan Coulter-Nile have won the final two spots in Australia’s XI for their World Cup opener against Afghanistan in Bristol.
Australia are bowling first after Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib won the toss at the Bristol County Ground, with Khawaja slotting into the Australian XI at No.3 behind openers Finch and David Warner, having edged out Shaun Marsh for the final batting spot.
Coulter-Nile fills the final slot in the bowling attack – beating out Jason Behrendorff, Kane Richardson and Nathan Lyon for the berth – alongside spearheads Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, spinner Adam Zampa and allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib has won the toss and elected to BAT first #AFGvAUS #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/3SFtOxrtOj— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) June 1, 2019
Warner and Smith are playing their first official games for Australia in over a year, with Warner overcoming a glute strain to take his place in the XI.
Warner was cleared to play on Friday after passing a fitness test at training the previous day.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Finch said selectors faced a difficult decision.
"It's always really tough early in the tournament especially when everyone is coming off really good form in the previous series we've played,” Finch said on Friday.
"Everyone's hitting the ball well in the nets, everyone is bowling well. It's a real positive – anytime anyone's been given an opportunity, everyone has taken it, which makes selection so hard, but it's a good position to be in all the same."
Warner's return means splitting up the Finch-Khawaja union that has statistically proved Australia's most successful ever ODI opening partnership.
But Warner’s record is undeniable – he has scored 14 ODI tons (only Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist have more among Australians), while averaging 43.43.
Finch, one ODI hundred behind Warner on 13, was optimistic either combination could work and that Khawaja was adaptable enough to move down to first drop.
"Dave and I have had a great partnership over the years. That was a pretty key part of our 2015 World Cup win," Finch explained.
"I've known them both (Khawaja and Warner) for a long time, I've batted with them both for a long time.
"Whichever way we decided to go with that, it didn't faze me either way.”
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa
Afghanistan XI: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazrat Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan
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
May 22: (warm-up) Australia beat West Indies by seven wickets
May 25: (warm-up) Australia beat England by 12 runs
May 27: (warm-up) Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
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
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE