IND vs AUS: Steve Smith to return to preferred No.3 position; Marnus Labuschagne's ODI debut in doubt
Not Marnus Labuschagne, but former Australian skipper Steve Smith is most likely to return to his mark his return to the one-drop position in the batting lineup for the impending ODI series against India that begins from January 14 onwards in Mumbai.
Despite having batted at the No.4 position in the World Cup, Smith will takeover the No.3 responsibility in the three-game series as Australia begin their preparations for the showpiece event in 2023. Usman Khawaja was the last No.3 option for the Aussies in their run-up to the semis in World Cup 2019. But with him not being part of the squad for the crucial India series, Smith will return to the spot.
He has an impressive average of 52.72 while batting at No.3 thant at No.4 where he averages just 35.61.
"There is a fair chance Steve Smith will bat No.3," interim coach Andrew McDonald told AAP. "The top three fall into Warner, Finch and Smith. And then the conversations start about how we will go through the middle and what balance team we want to play."
This implies that Labuschagne, who reckoned that he will take over the No.3 spot just like in Tests, will be competing for the middle-order lineup alongside Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Ashton Agar depending on whether the visitors will opt for an extra batter or an extra all-rounder.
Handscomb had an impressive campaign in the last series in India and is clever against spin attack. Turner had a decent series in India where he had scored a match-winning 84. And Agar's spin capability might come in handy for the Aussies. This means Labuschagne will have to wait for his ODI debut with D'Arcy Short being a fifth option for the Aussies. And Alex Carey, the wicket-keeper batsman will take the No.7 spot. \
"We've got Marnus who can bowl, we've got D'Arcy Short was can also bowl. And Ashton Turner also can give us some overs as well," McDonald said.
"The first selection is always the hardest, particularly in a three-match series.
"It's a short series. The batters you pick first up you would be hoping they can get through the three games."