‘It’s major’: World Cup disaster looms?
UNDER-fire skipper Aaron Finch remains the elephant in the room for Australia as the World Cup rapidly approaches.
Finch, desperate to lead from the front on the current tour of India and this year's World Cup, has now played 21 consecutive white-ball innings for his country without reaching 50.
A well-struck 37 in Tuesday night's loss in Nagpur had fans hopeful of a blazing return to form but the lack of consistency from the 32-year-old has left many in cricket's inner-circle worried about the Cup, which starts in May this year.
Coach Justin Langer has made it clear he will be patient as Finch seeks to end a slump that is far from ideal for Australia, who will be out to defend their limited-overs Cup title in England.
There were glimpses of Finch's best during his highest ODI score since November 9, but former Aussie skipper Ian Chappell stressed the doomsday clock was ticking for the struggling batsman.
Chappell insisted Finch only has a few more games left before selectors are forced to drop the sword, potentially spelling a change in captaincy right before the World Cup - or worse, in the middle of the tournament.
"It's a major concern and it's been a problem for a while," Chappell said on the long-time ODI opener's form.
"It could get to the point where you're going to have to drop your captain in the middle of the World Cup if he doesn't get some runs.
"That becomes even more important when you know Warner is coming back into side and someone in the top order is going to miss out.
"But I'll say that his poor batting hasn't affected his captaincy, I thought he did a good job in the field last night."
Pat Cummins, on the other hand, was full of praise for the Victorian.
"He's such a class player. His record is great in ODI cricket, so runs were always going to come," Pat Cummins said.
"He batted really well with Usman at the start.
"You see how effective he is. Once he gets going the field goes back, the bowers start plan B.
"I know bowling in domestic cricket against him, you do feel under pressure if he's firing."
Finch got on the front foot and smoked his seventh delivery through the covers and to the rope.
It sent a clear message of intent to Mohammed Shami - the same paceman who terrorised Finch throughout this summer's Testseries, memorably forcing the opener to retire hurt when a brutal blow to the glove in Perth exposed the bone.
Finch was tentative at times during a 53-ball stay at the crease, admonishing himself every time he played and missed.
The Victorian helped himself to two boundaries off medium-pacer Vijay Shankar's first over and slog-swept spinner KuldeepYadav's first legal delivery into the crowd.
Yadav trapped Finch lbw in his second over, ending a 83-run stand that was Australia's best opening partnership in ODIs sinceFinch and Travis Head put on 101 last year in England.
- with AAP