Melbourne, 19 September
Hoping that he will recover from his back problem on time, Australia today named Michael Clarke captain for the one-day series against India but made it clear that his inclusion in the playing XI would be contingent on his fitness.
Australia, who beat England 2-1 in a recent One-Day Internationals series, will play seven one-dayers during the tour, beginning on 10 October with a one-off Twenty20 in Rajkot.
Clarke, on his part, remained confident of getting fit for the series.
“No doubt it’s quite stiff and sore. But I’ll be guided by experts on what I need to do now to try and get myself as fit as I can be,” Clarke told reporters in Sydney, adding: “I would certainly like to go and continue to play. I’m enjoying my cricket at the moment.”
Australia named a 14-man squad, dropping Mathew Wade, paceman Josh Hazlewood and spinner Fawad Ahmed.
Ahmed, a cricketer of Pakistani descent, made his Australia debut after getting his citizenship recently. He has been dropped in favour of Xavier Doherty, deemed by selectors better suited to Indian conditions.
The selectors also chose to ignore injured batsman Shaun Marsh and David Warner.
Brad Haddin, who captured an Ashes series record of dismissals during the England tour, will be the lone stumper in the side. “After a long tour Michael Clarke’s back condition has flared up again and he has been selected subject to fitness. “He has returned to Australia for further assessment and the national selection panel hopes that it will improve on time for the Indian tour,” NSC chief John Inverarity said.
“There will be a reduced need for pace bowling on this tour so the NSP has reduced the squad from 15 to 14 players,” he added. On dropping Ahmed, Inverarity said: "As previously alluded to, Xavier Doherty has been included in the squad, in place of Fawad Ahmed, as the NSP feels that he is well suited to ODIs in India.
Fawad bowled well in his limited opportunities in the rain-affected series and better than his figures would suggest.
The NSP looks forward to Fawad getting plenty of bowling in the busy domestic schedule that begins at the end of this month.”
Cricket Australia has also confirmed that Steve Rixon will be the head coach on the tour as Darren Lehmann will take a break to spend some time with his family.
In another development, former India captain Sourav Ganguly today said the stylish left-handed batsman deserves a comeback into the national team. “It’s really great to see him bat in full flow once again. I’m not surprised that he’s back again. He has 200 per cent chance to make a return,” Ganguly said. The national selectors are slated to meet on 30 September to pick India’s squad for the upcoming ODI series.