Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have brushed off the disappointment of their Test omissions for the Sri Lanka series by chalking up timely half-centuries as Australia posted 5-288 in the first one-day international against India at the SCG.
Knowing they won’t be required to don the creams in either Brisbane or Canberra in the coming weeks, the much-maligned pair put on 53 for the fourth wicket before Marsh departed for 54 off 70 balls.
Change of pace: Shaun Marsh enjoys a spread field to make some runs against India at the SCG.Credit:AAP
After a thorough examination by India’s quicks, who probed Marsh on a fifth-stump line early in his innings, the 35-year-old looked to be cruising along to a fourth ODI hundred in seven innings before playing a rash shot that ended up down the throat of Mohammed Shami at long-on.
That Marsh did not swing overly hard at the ball was exacerbated by the fact he mistimed the shot at a time when he was working the ball around nicely.
It would have been a welcome relief for Marsh to play with slightly more freedom and formulate a plan with a spread field rather than a number of slips and the overwhelming pressure applied in recent Tests.
Then there was Handscomb, yet another Australian batsman made to pay for an unwanted series defeat to India, going about his business favourably in a different format.
The Victorian's 73 off 61 balls was his second half-century from eight ODI knocks.
Handscomb is developing a fondness for the SCG, with recent knocks of 70 in the Big Bash against the Sixers, 37 for the Test side and now 73.
Not only was timing a real feature of the knock but an ability to pick up the length quickly, as evidenced by a crisp pull shot off Bhuvneshwar Kumar that raced to the boundary.
Handscomb was patient and waited until late to launch an assault, pairing with Marcus Stoinis to whack the first sixes of the innings in the 44th over, both towards the members pavilion.
Happy hunting ground: Peter Handscomb played a steady hand before accelerating towards the end of his innings.Credit:AAP
Meanwhile, Usman Khawaja was productive in his first ODI in two years, scoring 59 from 81 balls at first drop to give selectors food for thought with the World Cup less than six months away.
He and Marsh steadied the ship after Alex Carey (24) and Aaron Finch (6) came and went in the first 10 overs but a well-directed arm ball from Ravi Jadeja brought an end to Khawaja’s innings.
The Australian No.3 got down on one knee to sweep but a faster delivery from Jadeja sneaked through to hit Khawaja in front after he had done the hard work early.
Looking through a positive lens, Australia’s No.3 to No.6 all made 47 runs or more but the reality is Khawaja is the only chance of lining up at the Gabba for the next Test.
Time in the middle will come for hopefuls Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and Will Pucovski in Hobart next week for a Cricket Australia XI but how times have changed with two vastly different teams across white- and red-ball formats given the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are not involved.
However, Glenn Maxwell, a man who wants to be there in both, was unable to unleash at the end of Australia’s innings. He only made his way to the middle in the 48th over and Stoinis’ knack of keeping the strike meant Maxwell only faced five balls and contributed 11 handy runs.
Kumar (2-66 off 10) and Kuldeep Yadav (2-54 off 10) returned the best figures for the tourists.
Last year, Australia batted first in seven one-dayers and made more than 288 on two occasions.
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