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Australia's injury concerns grow as ODI winning streak finally ends

Sophie Molineux took a nasty blow on the face while Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney had hamstring concerns

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Sophie Molineux returned to the field with a heavily bandaged face, Australia vs India, 3rd ODI, Mackay, September 26, 2021

Sophie Molineux returned to the field with a heavily bandaged face  •  Getty Images

Australia were left with a growing list of injury concerns ahead of the day-night Test against India after they saw their world-record ODI-winning streak halted on 26 matches after more than three years by a narrow two-wicket loss in Mackay.
Briefly at one stage, when Sophie Molineux left the field having suffered a nasty blow in the face when a return from the deep jumped from the surface, there were three substitutes in use with Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney having both picked up hamstring issues.
Molineux, the left-arm spinner who has filled the role vacated by the injured Jess Jonassen, bravely returned to the field with a heavily bandaged face to bowl at the death and was likely to require stitches in a cut lip.
"It was pretty solid blow, it skipped off the wicket, and got her in the lip," Meg Lanning said. "Think her teeth are okay which is important. To come back on and fight for the team, she was really brave and couldn't be more proud of her."
The severity of the injuries to Haynes, who returned for this match after missing the second game due to a blow on the elbow at training, and Mooney had yet to be ascertained when Lanning spoke shortly after the match - Mooney's had been described as "hamstring awareness" - with a degree of caution being taken due to the proximity of the Test which begins on Thursday.
However, the resources in Australia's large squad are being stretched with legspinner Georgia Wareham sidelined for the final ODI with a quad strain and fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck not available until the T20Is as she returns from an Achilles niggle picked up late in pre-season. Alongside Jonassen, who is recovering from a stress fracture, Australia were already without Megan Schutt for the entire series.
Before the series Lanning and head coach Matthew Mott spoke about how they would need to manage the workload of their young pace bowlers during the multi-format series. Those from Victoria and New South Wales had the added issue of needing to do 14 days hard quarantine in Brisbane.
Darcie Brown and Hannah Darlington were both left out of the third ODI having played the first two - with Brown expected to feature in the Test - which paved the way for Stella Campbell to make her debut on Sunday while there was also an impressive return for Annabel Sutherland who could have put herself in contention with 3 for 30.
"I think everyone who has come in has played a role and shown some exciting skills," Lanning said. "It's great for our future and shows how strong the group is. It's going to be pretty difficult to pick the team, a lot of young fast bowlers in form."
However, one bowling option currently not in form remains Ellyse Perry who went wicketless through the three ODIs with figures of 0 for 103 from 14 overs. While she was able to find some swing she had trouble controlling the ball and was the culprit for a significant number of the plethora of wides Australia sent down - 67 runs were conceded from wides in the three matches - although there will be more leniency for the bowlers in the Test format.
"We've bowled a few too many," Lanning said. "It's hard, sometimes Midge [Alyssa Healy] comes up to the stumps and you only need a slight miss and it goes for five. It's a fine balance."
There is no chance of Perry missing the Test, and every chance she will still be handed the new ball, but it will be hoped that the longer game will allow her to settle into a rhythm.
Although Australia took some superb catches - notably Sutherland's to remove Smriti Mandhana and Molly Strano's to claimed Yastika Bhatia - they were short of their overall best in the field. Having been gifted their own reprieves with the bat, if they had taken the opportunities the streak would still be alive but the 4-2 points margin (and it could easily have been India in front) means things are finally poised heading into the Test.
"To be honest there's some areas to improve in all three areas of our game," Lanning said. We didn't take all the chances we had. Still plenty to work on. It was inevitable at some point that we were going to lose again, with the class of the teams out there it's always close contests, and no easy wins. To have the streak as long as we did I think is an amazing effort over a long period."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo