Finch fit but Australia battling for form before T20 World Cup

Australia’s white-ball captain Aaron Finch says he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from minor knee surgery and is confident his squad has the experience to claim its first Twenty20 World Cup despite a disjointed preparation.

Those within the squad of 18, including three reserves, not already in the UAE for the IPL board a plane on Thursday for six days of quarantine, then training and two practice games before Australia’s first official match against South Africa in Abu Dhabi on October 23.

Finch was forced home from a tour of the West Indies in July due to cartilage damage in his right knee.

“I’ve been batting for a couple of weeks after some modified running in the first three-and-a-half weeks,” Finch said on Wednesday.

“The last couple of weeks have been fine. I’ve been building up gradually and had probably my biggest session in terms of fielding, changing direction and all that stuff with batting involved as well, so that’s gone as well as it could.

“I had a meeting with the surgeon yesterday and he was really happy with where it’s at.”

It has hardly been a gold-standard lead-up for the Australians, with Finch racing the clock to be fit for the tournament and very few of his teammates showing good form. Some haven’t played for months.

Aaron Finch is on track to recover from surgery before the T20 World Cup.Credit:AP

Of the key Australians in the IPL, only Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood have put in some strong performances.

Maxwell has scored three blazing half-centuries in his last three matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore, including two player of the match awards. Hazlewood has taken seven wickets in six games for the Chennai Super Kings, including a player of the match 3-24.

By contrast, both David Warner and Steve Smith have been dropped more than once by their IPL franchises and are currently not playing.

Finch said Warner would still open the batting with him, and Smith would be part of a flexible middle order.

“He [Warner] is one of the best players to ever play the game for Australia,” Finch said. “I’ve got no doubt he would love to be playing for Hyderabad but I know that he’s still training away. He’ll be good to go.”

Finch said Smith could bat anywhere from number three to six.

“What we’re going to do is be really flexible through that middle part of the game,” Finch said.

“We’ve got a lot of power there with Mitch Marsh, Maxwell, Smith, [Marcus] Stoinis, [Matthew] Wade.

“There’s a lot of ways that we can go about it. He [Smith] is a brilliant player of spin, he’s someone who can adapt to all situations of the game, so we see that as a real asset for us.”

Smith, Warner and Maxwell were among a number of players who skipped the white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August.

As selection for the T20 World Cup has highlighted, they were good tours to miss given the poor quality of the pitches and the unimpressive performance by Australia’s second-string batters.

Mitch Marsh stood tall as an all-rounder batting at number three, and Josh Inglis was picked on his recent Big Bash results and strong performances in domestic T20 cricket in England.

His selection came ahead of three other wicketkeeper-batters who went on tour, Alex Carey, Josh Philippe and Ben McDermott.

Australia’s T20 World Cup squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams

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