Australia not only holds the record as the most successful team in ODI Cricket World Cup history, with five championships, but also in ODI cricket overall. They have achieved 596 wins out of 983 matches in this format.
However, the five-time champions face a few challenges they must address to establish themselves as the team to beat in the upcoming marquee event. Although Australia didn’t have many key players in their recent series in South Africa.
This losing streak also included three consecutive ODIs lost by 100 runs or more, primarily due to the middle-order’s struggles. Therefore, Pat Cummins and his team must tackle these crucial issues to enter the World Cup as top contenders.
#4 Should Australia Play Only Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc as their dedicated fast bowlers?
Mitchell Starc currently ranks among the top new-ball bowlers in ODIs, while Pat Cummins not only possesses genuine wicket-taking abilities but also serves as the team’s captain. However, when considering specialist fast bowlers in the Australian squad, Josh Hazlewood and Sean Abbott are also viable options.
Hazlewood is a skilled operator with the new ball, known for troubling batsmen with his consistent line and lengths. On the other hand, Abbott has demonstrated his worth in ODIs, securing 4 wickets at an average of 26 and contributing valuable runs lower in the order.
However, the conditions in Mohali, the venue for the 1st ODI against India, are known to favor seamers, which could influence Australia’s decision to include three fast bowlers.
#3 Which all-rounders should Australia include in the lineup?
In the recent South Africa series under the captaincy of Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green were chosen as genuine all-rounders. However, their combined performance in five matches resulted in only 63 runs and six wickets. Aaron Hardie, an outlier, played one game and managed two wickets.
With Glenn Maxwell’s return to the squad as the World Cup approaches, he is likely to be a direct inclusion in the XI. Marsh is also set to be an automatic selection as an opener alongside David Warner, as Travis Head is sidelined with a wrist injury.
However, Australia faces a dilemma in choosing between Stoinis and Green, considering both players’ recent poor form with the bat.
#2 How can Australia address the absence of Ashton Agar in this series?
Ashton Agar has solidified his position as the team’s second spinner after Adam Zampa. Although he participated in just one match during the India tour earlier this year, he made a significant impact by capturing two crucial wickets in the decisive 3rd ODI in Chennai.
Additionally, Agar showcased his batting abilities with an unbeaten 48, contributing to a remarkable turnaround in the 1st ODI against South Africa in Bloemfontein.
Although Ashton Agar is assuredly available for the World Cup, the team must deal with the left-arm spinner’s absence in their upcoming series.
#1 Whom will David Warner partner with as the opening batsman?
Warner’s position as the opening batsman was in question, given Marsh’s success as an opener earlier this year in the three ODIs in India, where they formed explosive partnerships with Travis Head.
However, Head’s wrist injury means that Warner will retain his opening role, despite some inconsistency in the recent South Africa tour. Yet, it’s uncertain whether Marsh can replicate his past performance in India, where he scored 194 runs at a strike rate of 131.08 in three innings.
Inglis, on the other hand, has been part of the squad on several tours but hasn’t made a significant impact in ODIs. He once opened the innings but struggled to score. Since Short isn’t in the World Cup squad and is unlikely to be included, Australia seems committed to persist with Marsh and Warner at the top.
Nonetheless, Inglis is expected to play in the ODIs against India. While Australia faces issues in the middle-order, Labuschagne and Steve Smith are likely to bring stability.