T20 CRICKET WORLD CUP: Mitchell Starc in line for recall with semi-final hopes on thin ice heading into India clash

Justin Chadwick
AAP
Mitchell Starc (centre) was dropped against Afghanistan, but may earn a recall against India.  (AP PHOTO)
Mitchell Starc (centre) was dropped against Afghanistan, but may earn a recall against India. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Andrew McDonald faces one of the biggest decisions of his fledgling coaching career as he weighs up whether to recall Mitchell Starc for Australia’s crunch clash with India at the T20 World Cup.

Australia’s title hopes are on thin ice following their shock 21-run loss to Afghanistan on a tough St Vincent wicket.

India top Group 1 in the Super 8s stage with two wins from two outings, leaving Australia (1-1), Afghanistan (1-1) and Bangladesh (0-2) to battle it out for second spot.

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Australia face India at Saint Lucia in their final Super 8s game on Monday (Tuesday AEST).

Starc was left out against Afghanistan to accommodate a spot for spinner Ashton Agar on a turning deck.

Agar held up his end of the bargain with an economical 0-17 off four overs, but his lack of wickets raised questions about whether it would have been better going in with the more attacking Starc.

Another option is for Starc to come in at the expense of Josh Hazlewood, who returned expensive figures of 0-39 from his four overs.

McDonald defended his decision to drop Starc, who has a knack of picking up early wickets.

“It’s always a tough decision to leave Mitch Starc out of a team,” McDonald said.

“But as you saw from the way the game unfolded, I think Ashton was suited to these conditions and we needed to make room.

“I was comfortable with that decision, and now we’ve got to turn our focus to India, a totally different line-up, a totally different surface, and we’ve got to make good decisions at the selection table.

“That’s part of the art of navigating through a World Cup, to get those decisions right.

“You can’t play the same game twice. You can’t put Mitch Starc in there or Nathan Ellis and work out what the game would have looked like.

“We went with Ashton, we backed him in and we’ve got full trust in whoever we call on in that 15 to get a job done.”

If Australia lose to India, the only way they will be able to qualify for the semi-finals is if Bangladesh upset Afghanistan.

Even if Australia beat India they are no guarantee to go through, given Afghanistan could still overtake the Aussies on net run rate by posting a huge win over Bangladesh.

Australia’s current net run rate is a superior 0.233 compared with Afghanistan’s -0.650.

But playing into Afghanistan’s hands is the fact their match against Bangladesh comes after Australia’s clash, meaning they’ll know what equation is needed in order to snare second spot.

“There’s no doubt with net run rate there’ll be plenty of discussions hypothesising around that, around what it looks like,” McDonald said.

“But ultimately, we’re going to take care of what’s in our control and that’s India - no doubt one of the tournament favourites.

“We’d like to think we’re up there in the conversation, but we’re going to get to work in the next game and shift it pretty quickly.”

Australia dropped five catches against Afghanistan, following on from their butter-fingered display against Scotland earlier in the tournament.

“The boys know where we went wrong. They’re an experienced group,” McDonald said.

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