Hughes left out despite Clarke injury
Phillip Hughes has been surprisingly left out of Australia's side for their first one-day international against Zimbabwe despite captain Michael Clarke being ruled out with a hamstring injury. Australia have instead chosen a team very heavy on all-round options and bowlers, with eight men a chance of bowling at some stage during the first match.
When Clarke was ruled out, Hughes had appeared the logical inclusion from a squad light on specialist batsmen, especially given his outstanding recent form for Australia A. But Brad Haddin now seems the likely opening partner for Aaron Finch with George Bailey, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell expected to fill out the remaining places in the top five.
Mitchell Marsh will most likely come in at No.6, with James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson providing further all-round options lower down. And while men such as Marsh and Faulkner have strong batting records in domestic one-day matches, it does not augur well for Hughes' World Cup hopes that he has not managed to squeeze in to Australia's side under these circumstances.
"Looking at the wicket today, we've opted to go with the spin option of Nathan Lyon along with the extra allrounder to add further depth to our batting line-up which means that Phil Hughes has unfortunately missed out on selection," the coach Darren Lehmann said.
Australia will have five pace options for Monday's match, which will also be the first ODI in nearly two and a half years for Lyon, who has generally been considered a Test specialist. However, with the conditions in Harare likely to provide some turn, Lehmann expects that Maxwell and Smith will both play a role at the bowling crease during the tournament.
"Very much so, Ww want them bowling at a higher level - they know that and they've been working really hard," Lehmann said. "Nathan's in the squad because he's an attacking spinning option which is important for us as well. The wickets look pretty good, I played here years ago and it was a good track.
"It probably spun a bit more in the mornings and then flattened out in the afternoon a bit. I think it will be a case that as the tournament goes on, spin will play more of a part."