Australia set to field strongest XI
Australia are spoilt for choice in the fast-bowling department when it comes to the World Cup, and Josh Hazlewood's return just before the tournament has added to the happy headache. He bowled five overs in the washout in Sydney, playing for the first time since the Tests against India, but he feels he needs a better showing than the 5-0-25-0 at the SCG if he is to seal a spot in the first XI.
"I don't think so yet," Hazlewood said when asked if he felt he was part of the first-choice line-up. "Obviously had a good series against South Africa as well in winning that series, but we've got some great young quicks here and with Mitch [Johnson] to lead and got [Mitchell] Starcy and [Pat] Cummins as well, so great competition for spots at the moment. Whoever gets a crack on Sunday will be trying to put their hand up. Obviously a few warm-up matches before the World Cup starts, so taking every opportunity to put your hand up and take a few wickets."
Hazlewood said that the team for the tri-series final on Sunday might be pretty close to the best XI, with Shane Watson back to fitness too. Johnson will return to join Starc and James Faulkner as the left-arm quicks. There is a good chance both Hazlewood and Cummins might get a go now that the ICC has said over-rate offences won't carry into the World Cup.
"Yeah I think so," Hazlewood said when asked if the XI for the final might be the first glimpse into what Australia think their best combination might be. "Obviously the conditions here [in Perth] suit the quicks, so probably play a few there compared to other venues, so the team will change a little bit but everyone is fit. With Mitch coming back in it'll be good to see him bowl fast on Saturday."
Just like Hazlewood, Johnson has had a break since the Test series. "He's obviously bowled a lot over the last 12-18 months and any time he can put his feet up for a week or so is good," Hazlewood said. "I guess he's refreshed and he bowled well in Sydney in the nets over the few days. I guess the boys won't be looking forward to facing him here in these nets so he'll be right to go."
Hazlewood said Australia were not likely to experiment too much once the World Cup starts. "I think Boof [Darren Lehmann] will try and settle on an XI and keep playing that same XI," he said. "Pick the strongest team and stick with it as long as everyone is injury-free and bowling well. I think that will stay pretty concrete. With a game only every week or five or six days there's no reason to rest bowlers, so I think once he picks that XI and settles on it, it will be pretty much settled."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo