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    Australian Players' Performances in the IPL
Australian Players' Performances in the IPL
Australian Players in the IPL. Source: ESPNCricinfo

Australian Players' Performances in the IPL

As the IPL approaches the crucial stage of the tournament, the selection committee of Australia is gathering this week to choose a preliminary squad of 15 players for the T20 World Cup in June. The performances of Australian players in the IPL were expected to influence the selection process, and a few of them made noteworthy contributions in the past week. Let's take a look at their performances.

Jake Fraser-McGurk. Source: ESPNCricinfo
Jake Fraser-McGurk. Source: ESPNCricinfo

Fraser-McGurk's extraordinary form

Jake Fraser-McGurk is presenting a significant dilemma for the selectors this week. He has achieved a remarkable feat in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by scoring two half-centuries in just 15 balls each. What's even more impressive is that he accomplished this feat within his first five IPL matches, with an outstanding 27-ball 84 against Jasprit Bumrah, one of the IPL's finest bowlers. Fraser-McGurk's explosive batting during the T20 powerplay has elevated the game to a whole new level, and the Delhi Capitals haven't felt the absence of David Warner, who has been recovering from a finger injury.

Although Fraser-McGurk has played two One Day Internationals (ODIs), he is yet to make his debut in T20 Internationals (T20Is). Australia had already finalised their top three batsmen for the upcoming World Cup, consisting of Warner, Travis Head, and Mitchell Marsh, who were part of the winning combination in the ODI World Cup. Additionally, the middle-order combination of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, and Matthew Wade has been performing well over the past two years. Josh Inglis serves as the backup wicketkeeper and is considered the most versatile backup batsman in Australia, having scored a century in a T20I match in India last year. As a result, Australia's 15-player squad for the World Cup is likely to include a second spinner, an extra fast bowler, and an additional all-rounder. This leaves no room for an extra specialist top-order batsman. However, Fraser-McGurk's exceptional form makes the idea of pairing him with Head at the top of the batting order very enticing. This would require either demoting Warner in the order or omitting him from the playing XI or the 15-player squad, which is highly unlikely given his extensive experience and success in tournaments.

Furthermore, the World Cup matches will not feature an impact substitute, which has encouraged players like Fraser-McGurk to play fearlessly, knowing that they have a strong batting lineup behind them. Additionally, the matches will be played on pitches in the Caribbean, where scoring rates are generally lower and spin bowling is more challenging to score against than pace bowling. If the selectors wish to include Fraser-McGurk in the 15-player squad, they will have to take a risk by either not including a backup wicketkeeper, as they did in the 2022 tournament at home, or not having an extra spinner in the squad, as they did in the 2023 ODI World Cup. However, arranging a replacement promptly from halfway around the world in case of injury is not as straightforward as it was in the previous two tournaments.

David Warner is injured

Warner is expected to be out of action for another week due to a bone bruise on his finger, which is causing some concern for Australia. In Warner's absence, Fraser-McGurk's performance and recent bias have sparked discussions about his place in Australia's best XI for the World Cup. However, it is unlikely that the Australian selectors have raised the same questions internally, considering Warner's impressive 15-year career. Critics have often mistakenly linked Warner's decline in Test cricket with his performance in white-ball formats, despite his strong showings for Australia. While Warner had a relatively lean Indian Premier League (IPL) season before his injury, his form was not alarming. Warner's experience will be invaluable in the Caribbean if the pitches play as expected. However, if Australia encounters favourable pitches and Warner is chosen over Fraser-McGurk, he will need to rediscover his fearless form from the past. There is no doubt that he will be motivated to prove that he is still one of Australia's top T20 openers.

On another note, Mitchell Starc suffered an unusual finger injury and was unable to play in Kolkata Knight Riders' recent match against Punjab Kings. This is not the first time he has injured his bowling finger with his spikes. Starc's form before the injury had been inconsistent, and the break may have come at a good time during the tournament. Kolkata Knight Riders' bowling attack struggled without him, failing to defend a total of 261 runs. The team is hopeful that Starc will return in one of their next two games. The Australian selectors would like to see him find some consistency before the World Cup.

Cameron Green. Source: Hindustan Times
Cameron Green. Source: Hindustan Times

Green has rediscovered his form

Cameron Green has performed well in both batting and bowling roles for Royal Challengers Bengaluru, which is timely as the World Cup squad selection approaches. In a recent match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he made an unbeaten 37 runs off 20 balls, showcasing his ability to finish the innings strongly. He was particularly effective against Test captain Pat Cummins, hitting him for four boundaries in the final overs. Green's bowling has also been impressive, as he took 2 wickets for 35 runs against KKR and 2 wickets for 12 runs against SRH, including the dismissal of Cummins. His execution and unpredictability as a T20 bowler have improved. Yet, he did struggle in one match against Gujarat Titans, conceding 42 runs in just three overs. 

Fraser-McGurk's selection is complicated by Australia's need for an additional all-rounder, considering the injury concerns surrounding Marsh and Stoinis. Marsh is currently recovering from a hamstring injury that forced him to end his IPL campaign. Although he is expected to be fully fit for the World Cup and serve as the captain, it remains uncertain if he will be able to bowl in every game. Stoinis has been in excellent form with both bat and ball, but he missed Australia's last four T20Is and several pool games in the ODI World Cup due to back issues and other injuries. He was also excluded from the XI for the semi-final and final matches. Green played a crucial role in one of the ODI World Cup pool games against England, scoring 47 runs as a replacement for Marsh, who was absent for personal reasons.

Stoinis showcased his talent 

Despite concerns about his injury, Stoinis demonstrated his exceptional skills as a T20 cricketer by delivering an outstanding unbeaten score of 124 runs to lead Lucknow Super Giants to victory against Chennai Super Kings. This performance showcased his expertise in T20 batting, especially after being promoted to the No.3 position. Furthermore, he exhibited improved durability by bowling four overs, including the crucial 20th over, before batting for almost 20 overs and successfully guiding his team to victory. However, in the subsequent match against Rajasthan, Stoinis only bowled one over, despite taking the important wicket of Yashasvi Jaiswal and conceding only three runs. Although he missed out with the bat in that match, a fit, versatile, and in-form Stoinis is a positive sign for Australia as they head to the World Cup.

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