Australia have been forced into three changes for a whirlwind T20 tour of India, with selectors taking a conservative approach ahead of the T20 World Cup title defense next month.
David Warner had already rested from the trip and now Mitch Starc (knee), Mitch Marsh (ankle) and Marcus Stoinis (side) have been left out of the tour, with Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams and Sean Abbott added to the squad.
The trio’s injuries are minor, but with the trip involved for three games to three separate cities in six days in India, Australia have taken a cautious approach with their T20 World Cup campaign due to start on October 22 when they will face New Zealand at the SGC.
Marsh and Stoinis’ injuries emerged in Australia’s North Queensland ODI series against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, but Starc is a late exclusion from the tour after a knee scan today in Sydney.
Australia will play the T20 series at home against the West Indies and England ahead of the World Cup, with Warner, Marsh, Starc and Stoinis all expected to be available for those games.
Stoinis’ absence all but guarantees that Tim David will make his Australian debut on the Indian tour as a mid-tier finisher, and gives him the chance to make it difficult for Stoinis to force his way back into the team.
Marsh’s absence could see Steve Smith move up to No 3 with the arrival of versatile Cameron Green in the side, while Josh Inglis is likely to partner Aaron Finch at the top of the list with Warner who has rested touring for family time.
Also in the squad is Ashton Agar, who fell victim to Australia’s daring selection policy by being dropped on their way to the World Cup title in the United Arab Emirates last year. .
Marsh, in particular, is a key cog in Australia’s hopes of becoming the first men’s team to win back-to-back T20 World Cup titles.
The 30-year-old reported ankle pain after Australia’s first ODI win over Zimbabwe in Townsville and was immediately put on the ice to recover.
Marsh had his finest hour in Australian gold to break the men’s T20 World Cup title drought in Dubai last November, striking 77 from 50 at No. 3 in an eight-wicket win.
Stoinis was instrumental alongside Matthew Wade in Australia’s semi-final victory over Pakistan, with the versatile player hitting 40 runs on 31 balls as Australia came back from needing 62 in the five last overs to win.
The modified Australian squad will fly to India early on Thursday before a few days of acclimatization and training leading up to the first match next Tuesday in Mohali.
They play again on September 23 in Nagpur before the final match two days later in Hyderabad.
Australia will then return home before hosting the West Indies on October 5-7 in Queensland.
Ellis enters the team after an excellent T20 Blast season with Hampshire, including bowling the dramatic final where he successfully defended a total to secure a one-point win.
He claimed 15 wickets in 13 matches with a miserly save rate of 6.87, second best of any rapid to deliver 10 overs. He added seven wickets in nine hundred games for London Spirit.
Sams took 14 wickets in 12 T20 Blast games and was expensive at 9.05 per plus, but improved his lower-order strike credentials with 165 runs at a strike rate of 171.87, with 13 sixes.
That strike rate rose to 190.90 as he hit 105 runs in five innings for the Trent Rockets in the Hundred, adding seven wickets in nine games with a saving of 10.20.
India, meanwhile, have welcomed Jasprit Bumrah back into their squad, while recalling an in-form Harshal Patel to boost their bowling pace for the World Cup in Australia.
Bumrah missed the recent Asian Cup due to a back injury that has kept him out since mid-July.
Patel has also recovered from a rib injury to join the 15-member squad as a power bowling option alongside veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
There was no place in the World Cup squad for famed death pundit Mohammed Shami, but he will feature in the series against Australia with Arshdeep Singh retained.
Of the two wicket-keepers in the Rohit Sharma-led side, Rishabh Pant gives India the chance to play the left-handed batsman as a free ‘floater’, while Dinesh Karthik has a formidable reputation as a ‘finisher’.
India, who begin their campaign with a blockbuster on October 23 against arch-rivals Pakistan in Melbourne, will miss injured Ravindra Jadeja but have a similar replacement in versatile spin Axar Patel.
Veteran Ravichandran Ashwin was chosen as the second spinner, behind Yuzvendra Chahal.
Qantas T20 Tour of India 2022
September 20: First T20, Mohali, midnight September 21 AEST
September 23: Second T20, Nagpur, midnight September 24 AEST
September 25: Third T20, Hyderabad, midnight September 26 AEST
All matches will be broadcast live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports
Australia team: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Aaron Finch (c), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
India team: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandaran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar , Jasprit Bumrah.