Blow for Australia as Marsh ruled out of 1st ODI against Pakistan, Inglis tests positive for virus

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Babar Azam (R) and Aaron Finch pose for a photo with the ODI series trophy at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Monday. AP

An understrength Australia suffered more setbacks on Monday when all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was ruled out of Tuesday’s first ODI against Pakistan with a hip injury and wicketkeeper Josh Inglis tested positive for COVID-19.

The Australian team management said scans confirmed Marsh’s injury was a low-grade hip flexor strain and the all-rounder could potentially return to play later in the series.

Inglis, who made his T20 debut against Sri Lanka in February and is yet to play an ODI, is the first Australian player on tour to Pakistan to test positive for COVID-19.

He will isolate for five days before returning to the squad. All the remaining Australian squad members returned negative results following routine daily testing.

Australianplayers-practice Australian players attend a practice session at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore. AFP

The Australian squad is understrength after Test captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood as well as opening batter David Warner are being rested after Australia’s 1-0 victory in the Test series in Pakistan. Glenn Maxwell will miss out after getting married last week while Kane Richardson and Steve Smith are also not available due to injuries.

Marsh was Australia’s key player in its T20 World Cup win in the UAE and was expected to bat in the top order against Pakistan and also provide some depth in the pace department.

“He’s injured his hip flexor, we think, at training,” Australia captain Aaron Finch told reporters on Monday a day before the first ODI at Lahore. “We are going to have to wait and see what that looks like but I don’t think he’ll be available for the series based on how he was feeling yesterday.”

BabarAzam-ArunFinch-ODIseries Babar Azam (R) and Aaron Finch hold the ODI trophy  in Lahore. AFP

Finch said Marsh “felt a twinge” during an intense fielding drill session at the Gaddafi Stadium when he bent down to pick up the ball one-handed.

Australia’s rapidly improving 22-year-old allrounder Cameron Green, who has played just one ODI, will replace Marsh after an impressive test series in Pakistan where he scored 155 runs in three innings and also captured three wickets.

“Cam will play and probably bat in that middle-order role,” Finch said. “We’ve seen he’s a super talented cricketer. He’s someone who has been quite consistent in his test career, his impact with the bat and ball can’t be understated. Really excited for Cam to get that opportunity.”

Babar-Finch-Lahore Pakistan and Australian captains arrive to unveil the trophy of the ODI series at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium. AFP

It’s been eight months since Australia last played its ODIs against the West Indies, but Finch said the understrength squad will test the team’s depth ahead of next year’s World Cup in India.

“With every decision we make there is one eye towards the 50-over World Cup and to tie everything back to that is really important,” Finch said. “It’s about trying to build the depth of the squad and build experience in players.”

Pakistan has enough firepower in the batting department to score big against the inexperienced Australians.

Opening batter Fakhar Zaman and captain Babar Azam scored prolifically in the Pakistan Super League while Imam-ul-Haq has also scored consistently in the ODIs. They also have hard-hitting batter Asif Ali in the middle-order to score quickly in the death overs.

“Babar has told us to put behind the result of test series and we are now fully focussed on the white-ball series which we hope to win 3-0,” Fakhar said.
“We have an advantage of playing in our home conditions and I think wickets will be batting friendly.”

Lahore will host all the three ODIs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday before Australia round of its first tour to Pakistan since 1998 with a Twenty20 on April 5.

Associated Press

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