Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Allrounder Marcus Stoinis believes he is back to full fitness and will be available to bowl in Australia's next T20 World Cup warm-up game on Wednesday against India after playing as a batter only in the three-wicket win during their first warm-up match against New Zealand on Monday night. He is confident he could bowl against India if needed on Wednesday, with Australia's World Cup opener against South Africa just three days later.
"[My] hammy is good. I didn't bowl tonight, but it's tracking pretty well," Stoinis said. "It feels like it's on the right track and it's ready to go. I guess I'll probably bowl in that next game."
Stoinis made 28 off 23 as Australia scraped home with just one ball to spare. It was just his second match back from a hamstring injury he suffered while bowling the first match of the second leg of the IPL on September 22.
Stoinis played in Delhi Capitals' IPL Qualifier loss to Kolkata Knight Riders, but again just as a batter. Although he has been running and bowling in the nets, he is still working his hamstring back to full strength and running power. Stoinis also suffered a minor back injury while training in Perth prior to flying to the UAE for the resumption of the IPL.
Stoinis' bowling will be needed if Australia opt for a four-man bowling attack as they did against New Zealand. One of the major debates within the Australia camp ahead of the World Cup is whether to pick five specialist bowlers, as they did during their run to world No.1 on the ICC T20I rankings in 2019-20, or whether they play four specialist bowlers only and use Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh as the fifth bowler.
Marsh was used as the fifth bowling option against New Zealand but was slaughtered, conceding 53 runs in four overs, including 25 in his first over inside the powerplay. The other knock-on effect of Australia's four-bowler strategy is it forces the spinners to bowl in the powerplay although Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa bowled very well with two men out, conceding just ten runs from their combined two overs, with Zampa picking up the wicket of Martin Guptill.
Australia showed their hand with the bat with Marsh batting at No. 3 and Steven Smith slotting in at No. 4 ahead of Stoinis, while Maxwell was rested. Matthew Wade came in at No. 6 and kept wicket, with Australia's reserve keeper Josh Inglis playing as a specialist bat but demoted to No.9 in order to give Agar and Starc some practice in a chasing scenario.
Smith and Stoinis combined for a 48-run stand from 39 balls to control the middle of the chase. However, Australia lost 3 for 1 and needed Agar, Starc and Inglis to see them home. But Stoinis was pleased with his own form and the team's performance despite the obvious rust.
"I think it's a good start," Stoinis said. "We obviously haven't played together for a while, so that was nice to firstly get a win, but two, to try a few new things and give a few people a crack.
"I felt all right. It was nice to spend some time in the middle. I've spent a lot of time in the nets lately, so it was nice to get in the middle and just build a little partnership and do what is required for the team.
"I think the way we were scoring was fine. I think ideally, we wouldn't have lost those three wickets for not many, but I think the scoring rate was fine. We had it in control. Ash and Starcy got it over at the end, and Ingo actually."
New Zealand vs Australia
ICC Men's T20 World Cup Warm-up Matches
ICC Men's T20 World Cup