Khawaja replaces injured Finch, captaincy wide open
Australia's captain Aaron Finch will be replaced by Usman Khawaja for the dead rubber Twenty20 against India on Sunday and is under a cloud for New Zealand and beyond after a hamstring injury that has left the selectors scrambling for an alternate leader
Australia's captain Aaron Finch will be replaced by Usman Khawaja for the dead rubber Twenty20 against India on Sunday and is under a cloud for New Zealand and beyond after a hamstring injury that has left the selectors scrambling for an alternate leader.
Khawaja's call-up is the result of his outstanding displays in the Test team and more recently for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, where he left Shane Watson to conclude he was batting as well as anyone he has ever seen.
"Usman is very well placed to be able to play anywhere at the moment, wherever the opportunity arises," Watson said, "because he's batting incredibly well, as well as I've ever seen anyone bat.
"He's ready to go, and whatever [format] the opportunity arises, he's in incredible control of his game at the moment. Whatever opportunities come his way he incredibly deserves."
With David Warner and Steven Smith already set to fly to New Zealand on Saturday, Finch's injury leaves the likes of Watson, Matthew Wade and Shaun Marsh in contention to lead Australia at the SCG, though it may be possible to parachute in the erstwhile T20 leader George Bailey.
Either way, Cricket Australia will be required to arrange a hasty phone hookup to settle the question of the captaincy with all their first three choices unavailable for various reasons.
"Aaron is being assessed at the moment but unfortunately he's definitely done some form of damage to his hamstring," Watson said after Australia's series-sealing defeat.
"At this point in time obviously we don't exactly know the extent, but unfortunately for Finchy it's at least probably a week or so out, from my own personal experience a number of times. It's very unfortunate for him because he batted beautifully again tonight."
The identity of the stand-in captain will be known on Saturday. Finch, meanwhile, faces a nervous few days to see how his hamstring settles down.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig