Australia v India, 2nd T20I, Melbourne January 29, 2016

Khawaja replaces injured Finch, captaincy wide open


Aaron Finch injured his hamstring during his 48-ball 74 that went in vain at the MCG on Friday © AFP

Australia's captain Aaron Finch will be replaced by Usman Khawaja for the dead rubber Twenty20 against India on Sunday and is under a cloud for New Zealand and beyond after a hamstring injury that has left the selectors scrambling for an alternate leader.

Khawaja's call-up is the result of his outstanding displays in the Test team and more recently for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, where he left Shane Watson to conclude he was batting as well as anyone he has ever seen.

"Usman is very well placed to be able to play anywhere at the moment, wherever the opportunity arises," Watson said, "because he's batting incredibly well, as well as I've ever seen anyone bat.

"He's ready to go, and whatever [format] the opportunity arises, he's in incredible control of his game at the moment. Whatever opportunities come his way he incredibly deserves."

With David Warner and Steven Smith already set to fly to New Zealand on Saturday, Finch's injury leaves the likes of Watson, Matthew Wade and Shaun Marsh in contention to lead Australia at the SCG, though it may be possible to parachute in the erstwhile T20 leader George Bailey.

Either way, Cricket Australia will be required to arrange a hasty phone hookup to settle the question of the captaincy with all their first three choices unavailable for various reasons.

"Aaron is being assessed at the moment but unfortunately he's definitely done some form of damage to his hamstring," Watson said after Australia's series-sealing defeat.

"At this point in time obviously we don't exactly know the extent, but unfortunately for Finchy it's at least probably a week or so out, from my own personal experience a number of times. It's very unfortunate for him because he batted beautifully again tonight."

The identity of the stand-in captain will be known on Saturday. Finch, meanwhile, faces a nervous few days to see how his hamstring settles down.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Graham on January 31, 2016, 4:05 GMT

    Their is no shield cricket this week sow no problems with Khawaja playing but please leave him out of the oneday tour to prepare for test cricket. It is time he made a stamp on that game before multitasking with different forms. If he doesnt make it this series he may never make it.

  • Terry on January 30, 2016, 19:13 GMT

    To be honest I would have picked Bailey and let Khawaja think about NZ. Is Bailey not playing because he is being ignored for the WC or because he is already a squad certainty? Same with Zampa & Mitchell Marsh. From those that have been given an audition you'd have to say Tait, Lynn & Lyon have failed it, Boland has been 50/50 (maybe less) and Tye has been a pass based on one game.

  •   Neet Bro on January 30, 2016, 16:29 GMT

    At this form India is the world's best team and no one can defeat this team.....this Indian team reminds me one of the best balanced Indian team after a long time since 2011 world cup epic team ! I know Usman is no.1 Aussie batsman but unlucky to face India!!

  • Mahendra on January 30, 2016, 13:09 GMT

    steven smith should retain his captaincy position and its about time khawaja gets a place in the team.

  • Prem on January 30, 2016, 12:02 GMT

    Watson should be permanent captain of the T20 side. Finch does not have good captaincy skills as totals of 188 and 183 by India show and his general captaincy record is very poor.

  • Abdul on January 30, 2016, 10:04 GMT

    I guess better late than never for Khawaja. Although people will be expecting way too much from him, putting him under pressure. I think Maxwell would make a good captain as hes been in the team for quite a while now.

  • Cricinfouser on January 30, 2016, 8:16 GMT

    @TRUEFACTORS Well, the many options should produce results also, I am not sure with the current form, they would even qualify for plate finals. Having said that a full strength Australia, should fancy their chances for semis at least, time to give respect to your spinners, Lyon and Boyce, even Smith should roll his arm over. Finch's injury might be a blessing in disguise, but Starc might be the one player which Australia will miss the most in the World T20.

  • Taimur on January 30, 2016, 8:03 GMT

    Khawaja has captained Thunder team for few years and he can step in as captain or bring in bailey and replace someone although its hard to drop one from the current side but when losing continously its rather easy to shuffle few guys. Aus running out of time for T20 WC. But Khwaja is the man to open and captain Aus T20 side.

  • chris on January 30, 2016, 5:28 GMT

    khawaja should be getting ready for the test series in NZ not playing this game theres no point.

  • Damian on January 30, 2016, 3:56 GMT

    I don't see any problem with the approach cricket Australia are using with this T-20 series at the moment. It's better to give players some experience in an international T-20 now than in the World Cup. And along the way you may find a player or two that will stand out, Andrew Tye would be one who hasn't done his chances any harm.

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