Mitch Marsh’s high-profile tournaments in India have created a huge dilemma ahead of this year’s World Cup – and that could be bad news for David Warner.
Marsh has been in his best form during the current ODI series in India, busting two half-centuries in as many hits.
The 31-year-old scored 81 off 65 balls in the series opening loss against India last Friday.
His total stood out as a beacon of hope given that Australia were bowled out for 188 in 35.4 overs.
Marsh was in an even more sordid mood on Sunday, hitting an unbeaten 66 off his 36 balls as Australia rallied to a 10-wicket victory with an astonishing 39 to spare.
What makes Marsh’s exploits all the more impressive is the fact that he wasn’t supposed to open for India – the first time he’s hit that position in his 71-match career.
Warner traveled to India for the ODI series after recovering from a hairline fracture in his elbow that he suffered during the 2-1 Test series loss.
The 36-year-old was rested for the opening match of the ODI series to give him more time to recover from an elbow injury, and missed the second match after suffering a quadruple in training.
It remains unclear if Warner will be fit to return for Wednesday’s series scheduled in Chennai.
Even if it was, Marsh’s opening success has given Australia food for thought that led to this year’s 50-plus World Cup finals in India.
Marsh’s brute force is a vital weapon – and the prospect of him opening up and setting up a platform for Australia to score 400 may be hard to resist.
But the incumbents – Travis Head and Warner – are also hard to budge.
Head has been in hot form at the top of the order since earning an ODI call-up in 2022.
In 11 strokes over the past year, Head has produced two buzz and four half-centuries.
On Sunday night he hit an unbeaten 51 off 30 balls as he and Marsh chased down the winning target of 118 with ease.
The future of the Warner Test is up in the air after a minor run of form.
But his ODI performances remain strong, with his last 10 strikeouts seeing scores of 106, 99, 94, 86 and 57.
However, if his ODI form fluctuates in the run-up to the World Cup, selectors may be tempted to pull the trigger and push Marsh to open permanently with Head.
If the head stumbles, he may find himself in the firing line.
Marsh, who usually bats somewhere from three to six in the order, impressed in the opening role while in India.
“Honestly, it’s pretty exciting to get 10 times with just two players,” Marsh said, referring to the Power Play.
India’s captain Rohit Sharma Marsh ranks as one of the best batsmen in world cricket.
“Definitely in the top three, top four when it comes to power,” Sharma said.
“You saw, he can just stand up and shoot and play shots. He supports himself to do it.”
Starc was the hero in Game Two, losing 5-53 as India were bowled out for 117 in their 26 matches.
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