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Lot on coaches’ plate as they weigh options

Injuries to James Hopes and Brett Lee — both are out of Wednesday’s second ODI — have opened the door for Shaun Marsh and there lies the problem for the Australia coach, where to fit the batsman in.

cricket Updated: Oct 27, 2009 22:59 IST
HT Correspondent

Apart from grappling with injury worries, Tim Nielsen has something more to ponder over. Injuries to James Hopes and Brett Lee — both are out of Wednesday’s second ODI — have opened the door for Shaun Marsh and there lies the problem for the Australia coach, where to fit the batsman in.

The son of former Australia opener and coach Geoff Marsh, Shaun, has an impressive average of 41.57 from 15 ODIs and is primarily a top-order batsman. If he has to be fitted into the XI, which looks certain, Australia will find it difficult to find a slot for him in the prime batting positions which are occupied by men who have scored well of late.

Tim Paine has done commendably as opener in his brief ODI career and his opening partner Shane Watson scored centuries in the Champions Trophy final and semifinal. So it’s difficult to split this pair. The next few slots belong to Ricky Ponting, Cameron White and Michael Hussey. In this scheme of things, Marsh can’t bat before No. 6 unless White, who scored a half-century in the first match, is pushed down.

“It’s a tough call,” said Nielsen on Tuesday. “We are comfortable with the role Tim is playing at the top of the order. All these issues of Shaun probably coming in and the batting slots, we will talk about this afternoon.” But Nielsen did admit that his batsmen would have to shoulder extra load if Johnson too doesn’t play.

“The pressure on our batsmen is a bit more extreme, we need to ensure that our top seven do a majority of the work. Mitchell is important to our side, important for the balance in our side and once we know how he pulls up, we will take a call. Probably Marsh will come in to the calculations.”

Mahendra Singh Dhoni too had his own worries over the batting order, with Yuvraj Singh fit to play again. “It’s a very difficult change to make because if you look at our batting order we have got Viru and Sachin to open, Gautam at No. 3, Yuvraj at 4. The next slot is vacant. Depending on the strength of the individuals, players who can have a bigger impact on the game, we will select individuals to bat at that particular slot.”