Finch unsure of a spot in the Australian XI
Aaron Finch, who had been Australia's T20 captain until January, has said that he isn't sure of making the XI when Australia take on New Zealand in their opening match of the World T20 in Dharamsala on Friday.
"I've got no idea, to be honest," Finch said. "I'm just getting prepared to play as everyone is. I'm sure the selectors will make a call once they see the wicket."
Finch is vying for the second opener's slot in the team, considering Shane Watson's good form and all-round skills makes him a certainty as first opener. Watson struck a blistering century in the third T20I against India earlier this year and also enjoyed a decent run in the Pakistan Super League. More recently, he scored 60 in a World T20 warm-up tie against West Indies.
Finch, who is the No. 1-ranked T20I batsman, faces stiff competition from Khawaja, who was the second-highest run-scorer in the 2015-16 Big Bash League. Khawaja has also done well in Indian conditions - he scored 267 runs at 66.75 in four List A matches for Australia A last year in a triangular series, also involving South Africa A.
Finch, while not as consistent, has notched up a few good scores of his own, including an 18-ball 40 against South Africa in Durban. "I feel really good with my game at the moment," he said. "I feel as though I'm hitting the ball really well, so if I get the first crack at it, I'm ready to go.
"We get up there (Dharamshala) on Tuesday, train on Wednesday and Thursday, so we'll probably have a really good chance to have a look at the wicket then and the guys (selectors) can make a decision then."
If the selectors do opt for Khawaja, it would give Australia a left-right opening combination. "It's probably less important in the first six overs, the left hand-right hand combination," Finch said. "From my point of view, it's about trying to get us off to a quick start. I'm sure Shane (Watson) is thinking the same and Uzzie (Khawaja) is probably in the same boat.
"If Khawaja gets his opportunity, it's about getting us off to a flyer while the ball is new and hard and then you can afford to probably have a bit more of a look through that middle period when spin comes on and they take the pace right off the ball."
Josh Hazlewood felt similar pressure over his place in the XI despite a hat-trick against West Indies.
Australia have four specialist seamers in their squad - Hazlewood, John Hastings, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Andrew Tye - and seam-bowling allrounders in James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Watson. With an eye on the conditions, Hazlewood suggested that the think-tank may be happy with just one frontline fast bowler.
"It could be as simple as that. Depending on the wicket, it could really be one quick and a bunch of allrounders who do play this format a lot of the time," Hazlewood said. Australia may also want to accommodate Ashton Agar or Adam Zampa to take advantage of slow, spin-friendly pitches.
A player forcing his way into the XI after missing out initially is an unlikely scenario according to Hazlewood, given the shorter duration of the World T20.
"The one-day World Cup, it went a little bit longer - six weeks," he said. "If you get that first opportunity and take it in this one, we've got four games in pretty quick time. So I don't think there will be as much chopping and changing, but in saying that it depends on the conditions at each ground."