World Cup 2019: Usman Khawaja ruled out as Australia call up Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh
Usman Khawaja has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a hamstring injury, Australia coach Justin Langer said on Sunday. Matthew Wade, who was touring England with the Australia A team, will be drafted in as his replacement, pending confirmation from ICC. The management is yet to decide on Marcus Stoinis, who has a right side strain, though all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been kept on standby.
Khawaja picked up the injury during Australia’s failed 326-run chase against South Africa in Manchester on Sunday. After retiring hurt initially, Khawaja came out to bat for the second time late in the innings, but Australia fell 10 runs short of the target. It is felt Khawaja could take up to four weeks to recover. Right now, the main concern of the Australian management is to get a fit Khawaja for the Ashes that begins on August 1. Both Khawaja and Stoinis were to undergo scans on Sunday.
“It’s such a pity for someone (Khawaja) who’s been so integral to how we’ve been playing,” Langer was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. “Matthew Wade is coming up, he’s in great form, he’s had a great 12 or 18 months back home but he also just scored two hundreds (for Australia A), so he’s in great nick. Mitch Marsh is going to come on standby for Marcus Stoinis just to see how he comes up … If they have to come in, they’ll be ready to step up,” he said.
Australia are in the middle of an injury crisis, losing Khawaja and Stoinis in the middle order that has looked really shaky without wicket-keeper Alex Carey’s contributions. Shaun Marsh broke his arm on Thursday and Peter Handscomb has been named his replacement. Assistant coach and triple World Cup winner, Ricky Ponting, said the situation isn’t ideal but they are trying to make the most of the resources available to them right now. “If you’re totally honest, it’s not ideal to have these sort of changes going into a World Cup semi-final, especially now we know we’re playing England. They were the favourites coming into the tournament,” Ponting was quoted as saying. “It’s up to us coaches to make it as easy as possible for those guys coming in, talking through scenarios and situations and just trying to keep them as free in the mind as possible.”
Australia though sought to pump up the pressure on England moments after their loss to the Proteas confirmed they would face their traditional rivals in the semi-finals. Nathan Lyon was the first Aussie to take aim at the hosts, asserting that the World Cup is England’s to lose. “They are full of world-class players,” Lyon said about England after Australia’s loss to South Africa in Manchester. Australia whipped England by 64 runs in the round robin match at Lord’s after the hosts suffered a batting collapse chasing 285. That coupled with the stunning loss to Sri Lanka almost pushed England to the precipice before they turned things around by defeating India and New Zealand to seal a semi-final spot.
“They have been the No. 1 team for a couple of years now. They should be going into this World Cup as favourites. It’s all on them. It’s their World Cup to lose if you ask me. We have got nothing to lose, only got stuff to gain. That’s the exciting thing about it. We are going to go out there, we are going to compete, we are going to have fun, we are going to have a smile on our face, we are going to try and improve on today’s performance,” said the seasoned spin bowler.