teve Smith has returned to the nets after elbow surgery, with Australia coach Justin Langer expecting the banned former captain and his deputy David Warner to be fit for the Indian Premier League.
Smith went under the knife in January after being forced to drop out of the Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 tournament with a ligament problem.
He has been in a brace since, but picked up a bat again and had a session at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Smith and Warner become eligible for international selection again on March 29 after serving year-long bans for their part in attempting to alter the ball during a Test against South Africa.
The injured and banned duo of Steven Smith and David Warner are unlikely to take part in Australia’s final two ODIs against Pakistan despite serving out their one-year ball-tampering suspensions during the series to be held in the UAE, says captain Aaron Finch.
After the conclusion of the ODI series against India, the defending world champions will take on Pakistan in the five-match series with the fourth and fifth ODIs slated on March 29 and 31 respectively.
Smith and Warner, both recuperating from elbow surgeries, will have their suspension end on March 29 but there are still serious doubts whether they will play the mega event or not. Smith has just started knocking and will take some more time to get fit.
“I don’t think David Warner or Steve Smith will play that game (on March 29). I am not a hundred percent sure on that but I don’t think they will play that last one or two games,” Finch said on the eve of the first ODI.
He also curtly put it when a reporter asked if he sees himself as a stand-in captain now that both Smith and Warner are set to be back.
“No, no, I am the captain, yeah,” was his blunt response.
Just like Indian team is trying to balance the workload of its players, Australia are also grappling with similar problems with Ashes starting after the World Cup.
Asked about pacer Pat Cummins’ workload, Finch said: “He bowled a lot throughout the Australian summer, particularly at the back end of the India Test series.”
“I think having no cricket in April will help guys like Pat to freshen up. Again someone like (Mitchell) Starc, who has played no cricket needs to bowl. The workload of our fast bowlers need to be balanced.” But playing 10 ODIs in a month (India and Pakistan series in March) is quite unprecedented in Australian cricket.”
“Playing 10 ODIs in a month is quite an unchartered territory for our fast bowlers. There will be a mix and match managing the workload.” Young batsman Ashton Turner is set to make his debut and the skipper is excited about that prospect.
(With input from Press Trust of India)