Marcus Stoinis doubtful for World Cup opener against India

All-rounder Marcus Stoinis is racing against the clock to be fit for Australia's opening match of the 2023 World Cup against India on October 8. Stoinis had sustained a hamstring niggle in the first ODI of last month’s series against India.

Following the injury, the 34-year-old did not feature in the next two ODIs of that series and the two warm-up fixtures. It raised concerns over his fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Australian coach Andrew McDonald addressed the media on Thursday, where he confirmed that Marcus Stoinis had suffered a hamstring twinge at Mohali last month. McDonald added that the all-rounder will be ‘touch and go' for Sunday’s match against the hosts in Chennai.

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“He certainly hasn’t been ruled out of that, but we weren’t prepared to risk him in those practice games. We‘ve got the main session today and then another hit out tomorrow, so he’ll go through his work there and we’ll see whether he’s available for selection for game one,” said McDonald.

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Australia have recently given the new ball to Stoinis in ODIs and T20Is, and he has produced good returns. Much like how India does with Hardik Pandya in T20 cricket, it gave Australia the option of holding back one of their frontline pacers for the middle overs.

With Stoinis unlikely to be risked in this game, Cameron Green will slot into Australia's starting XI at MA Chidambaram Stadium.

Green, who had suffered a concussion in the first ODI against South Africa last month, returned to action in the fifth ODI and has played all games since. However, his form was a big concern for Australia until he struck an unbeaten 50 off 40 against Pakistan in the second warm-up game.

McDonald also confirmed that Marnus Labuschagne is a lock for Sunday’s match against India. The right-hand batter was brought into the World Cup squad at the last moment in place of injured Ashton Agar and will bat at number four. 

Labuschagne was dropped from Australia's initial 15-member squad but later impressed the team management with his performances against South Africa. McDonald said Labuschagne has worked on his game, and it’s great for the team. 

Adam Zampa, the only specialist spinner in the squad, also hasn't played since complaining of soreness in the second ODI against India at Indore. According to McDonald, Zampa is not a concern and he only missed the two warm-ups for workload management.

Australia are currently without Travis Head, who had sustained a hand injury but was retained in the squad. They will have until October 11-12 to assess his condition further and have a clearer idea about his participation.

Glenn Maxwell is also carrying an ankle injury, but the big-hitter has promised to play the event through pain.