By: Shubham Ghosh
Steve Smith, who captained Australia in the final two Test matches against India in the just concluded series, will continue to be charge of the visiting team in the upcoming three-match one-day international (ODI) series against the Asian side as regular skipper Pat Cummins will not return for the white-ball contest.
The fast bowler returned home after the second Test to attend his ailing mother who passed away last week.
The first ODI will be played in Mumbai on Friday (17). The remaining ones will be played in Visakhapatnam on March 19 and Chennai on March 22.
“Pat won’t be coming back, he’s still taking care of what’s happened back home,” Australia coach Andrew McDonald said.
“Our thoughts are with Pat and his family as they go through that grieving process,” Donald was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
Cricket Australia has not named any replacement for Cummins in the 15-man squad.
Australia registered a fightback in the third Test under Smith by hammering India by nine wickets on a viciously turning surface in Indore but could not level the series as the final match in Ahmedabad ended in a dull draw. India won the series 2-1 to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
The visitors recalled Nathan Ellis recently to the ODI squad after Jhye Richardson made a late withdrawal due to a hamstring surgery.
A struggling David Warner, who has not been among the ODI squad members training in Ahmedabad in recent days, is set to return to the side after missing the final two Tests due to an elbow injury.
On the pace front, Josh Hazlewood, who also captained the ODI team during the England series when Cummins missed a match, is absent due to an injury.
Ashton Agar has returned after being sent home midway through the Test series and is likely to form a spin partnership with Adam Zampa. The series will also mark the returns of Glenn Maxwell (broken leg) and Mitchell Marsh (ankle surgery) from serious injuries.
We’ve got a couple conversations around the balance of the team we want to play, we’ve gone in with a structure with eight batters to bat a little bit deeper, we’ve tried that,” said McDonald.
“So there’ll be a mix of combinations as we lead into the World Cup. “(There is) a lot of all-rounders picked in the squad and can they all play in the one team? So we’ve got to answer a few of those questions.”
The ODI series is important for Australia given that India is hosting the ODI World Cup in October-November. Cummins took over the ODI job after Aaron Finch’s retirement last year but has led the side in just two matches so far.
(With PTI inputs)