Injuries dampen mood for Aussies
IT WAS a bittersweet day for Australian cricket yesterday.
Sunday's five-run win against England in the fifth and final one-dayer at the Adelaide Oval ensured Michael Clarke's side dethroned India as the world's No.1 ranked team in the format - for the time being.
India had held the mantle since January 2013, and can reclaim it by winning the final two matches of the series against New Zealand in Hamilton today, and Wellington on Friday.
Two wins would take India to 118 points, one ahead of Australia. Losing one or both would keep MS Dhoni's side second.
But Australia paid a price for jumping to the top of the world rankings, with opener Shaun Marsh and all-rounder James Faulkner both under an injury cloud.
Marsh left the field in England's innings on Sunday night with a calf problem, and had scans yesterday to determine the extent of the damage.
The 30-year-old injury-plagued West Australian is due to fly to South Africa tomorrow with the rest of the Australian Test squad for the three-match series against the world No.1 Proteas starting on February 12. If Marsh, who has played seven Tests, is ruled out of the tour, it could pave the way for a return to the international arena for fellow left-hander, South Australia's Phil Hughes.
The 26-Test representative has scored 549 first class runs at 61 this season.
Faulkner, the man-of-the-match in Adelaide following his knock of 27 and his bowling return of 2-37, had scans on an injured knee in Melbourne yesterday and is doubt for tomorrow's opening T20 against England in Hobart. He did not fly to Tasmania with the rest of the squad.
Although Australia has been in stunning form both the Test and ODI series this summer, it has plenty to prove in the three-match T20 showdown against England.
Australia is eighth in the ICC rankings, one place ahead of minnows Ireland, and two below England.
Aussie wicketkeeper Matthew Wade said the side was desperate to improve that woeful ranking ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March, while ensuring England's horror tour Down Under continued.
"It would be really nice to finish the summer off on a high and win this series," the Victorian said.
But Wade was wary of the threat England posed, especially from its players who have been part of the Big Bash League, including Luke Wright (Stars) and Michael Lumb (Sixers).