Rajkot: Star pacer Mitchell Starc eyes comeback to the Australian side, saying his recovery is well “on track”.
The fast bowler has been out of cricketing action since the Ashes in July and was also ruled out of the South Africa tour with groin soreness that had lingered following the Ashes.
Speaking in the press conference ahead of the final and third ODI, Starc hinted at his comeback and said, “Obviously, the priority is the World Cup so if that means we have to be mindful of tomorrow that’s one thing, but we’ll see how today goes, see how I pull up in the morning.
“The goal is to play tomorrow, but what that looks like depends on how today goes, the priority being the World Cup and not compromising that.”
Spencer Johnson (hamstring) and Nathan Ellis (groin) will be out for Australia, though. The pace team has returned home to start recovery in preparation for the domestic season. Johnson made his ODI debut in the second match, although Ellis didn’t play any match. The World Cup roster does not include either bowler.
Glenn Maxwell, too, is likely to return to action after he took part in the nets session on Tuesday. Maxwell last played making a first-class appearance for Warwickshire in July. He was set to play in the T20I series in South Africa but was soon ruled out after the practice session, as he experienced soreness in the broken leg.
“Yeah, Glenn [Maxwell] has come back as well,” Starc said. “He is on track. I am not sure about his particular timeline but no doubt he will be looking to make an impact as soon as he gets his chance.
“He has got a wealth of experience over here through IPL, through multiple tours. He is certainly an X-factor no matter which team he plays in. This is his third one-day World Cup. He is an X-factor for us and certainly who can take the game on.
“His ability with the ball, particularly in these conditions, adds another option in the bowling department as well. He seems in good spirits and going really well, [but] his return I am not sure what that looks like for this week but certainly on track for the World Cup,” said Starc.
Another headache for Australia is their No. 3 batter Steve Smith, whose recent form hasn’t been great. He too missed the South Africa tour due to (wrist injury), but has barely scored against India, his recent scores read, 0 and 41.
Starc also suggested that adjusting to the pitches during the World Cup will be key.
“His numbers speak for him. He is a high-class player and has been a massive part of all formats for Australia, so no concern there. It is the adjustment factor.
“We have got a lot of guys with IPL experience, we know that the wickets are going to be very different through the night and day, depending on which part of India we play as well. There are not too many grounds where we play back-to-back games so, conditions are going to play a part. We just need to adjust better than what we have in the first two games.”
Australia’s recent ODI performances haven’t been great, after taking a 2-0 lead in the 5-match ODI series against Proteas, they lost the last 3 matches by a margin of 100+ runs. Australia is already 0-2 down against India in the three-match ODI series leaving themselves on a five-match losing streak.
Starc also shed light on Australia’s recent performance and showed concern regarding Australia’s preparation for the World Cup, but with one ODI match against India and, two warm-up matches ahead of the World Cup opener, Starc looked confident to win the World Cup.
“Leading into the World Cup, it’s not a position that we want to be in,” he said, “but plenty to play for tomorrow in terms of what our make-up of the team looks like, what we want to take into World Cup campaign.
We have two or three opportunities after this game before game one of the World Cup. Another chance to get accustomed to the conditions, to adapt to what’s been thrown at us against probably the favourites at the World Cup. Big day for both teams tomorrow.”