Australia have made two changes to their playing XI for the series-deciding match against India on Friday, with Adam Zampa and Billy Stanlake coming into the side. Stanlake replaces paceman Jason Behrendorff, who has been ruled out with back soreness, while spinner Nathan Lyon has been dropped to make way for Zampa.
Kane Richardson has been called into the squad as cover and will thereafter be available for Saturday night’s Big Bash League contest between Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades. Behrendorff, who has a history of back problems, has not yet been released back to the Perth Scorchers.
Lyon’s axing from the side comes just two matches after he’d replaced Zampa in the side for the series opener in Sydney. The pair are vying for the frontline spinner’s role at this year’s World Cup and despite going wicketless in the two games, Lyon had earned praise from skipper Aaron Finch.
“I think he’s been really impressive,” Finch said Thursday afternoon, before the off-spinner’s axing was announced. “Obviously not getting a wicket, he’d have liked a bit more return for that. When he keeps bowling that well, he will get rewarded eventually.”
Behrendorff, despite harbouring ambitions of playing Test cricket, has eased back to top-level cricket via the limited-overs formats after another crippling back injury. “It’s something we spoke about at length at the end of last season in particular, because I’ve had recurrent (injuries), the same ones over the last couple of years,” Behrendorff said in November. “It’s a decision we didn’t make lightly but something we thought, for the longevity of my career, to give me a bit more time now (to recover) has been really good.”
Having re-jigged their batting line-up in the series with recalls for Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb, Finch said the improvement in the batting has been the major positive of the series so far. But the skipper added securing the trophy on Friday after losing against England (twice), India, South Africa, New Zealand and at the Champions Trophy, was his side’s major focus.
“It’s been a while since we’ve won a series,” Finch said. “There’s been a lot of improvement and a lot to be proud of so far. But winning the series is the focus.”
India had levelled the series on Tuesday with a last over finish to win by six wickets. In the first ODI, Australia had taken the series lead to win by 34 runs. A victory for Australia at the MCG on Friday would hand them their first series win in almost two years having won just four of their past 23 one-day internationals.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch, Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake
India ODI squad vs Australia: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill