Marcus Stoinis on course for recall as Australia brace for Bangladesh threat

Cricket

Marcus Stoinis could return to the Australian team for Thursday’s group game against Bangladesh after a side strain forced him to miss two matches. The allrounder bowled and batted during training at Trent Bridge and, while Justin Langer said Stoinis wasn’t certain to play in the next match, he has allayed initial fears he could be ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

“Not definitely, he’s a chance,” said Langer, when asked about the likelihood of Stoinis’ imminent return. “It looked like he moved really well batting.

“We’ve been monitoring him. He’s an elite athlete, he’s an elite professional. He’s done everything possible to get himself fit. He wouldn’t give up the opportunity for anything, would he? He’s determined so it doesn’t surprise me with where he’s at now. It’s a credit to him, it’s a credit to the medical staff that are getting him up. So hopefully he can have a real impact on the tournament.”

Stoinis’ absence forced Australia to tinker with the balance of the side for their game against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and, while they won both games, the bowling depth was challenged, with Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and even Aaron Finch chiming in.

“We’ve played really well with another balance,” said Langer. “We played in India and Dubai with two spinners. I’m really confident with whatever balance we go in. it’s actually really exciting.”

“We said at the start of the tour that we’ve got lots of options, very adaptable and that’s our strength not our weakness. I get the sense some people think that’s our weakness. I actually think it’s our strength that we can play according to our opposition, we can play accordingly to grounds, we can play according to managing players.”

“That’s a strength, not a weakness.”

Nathan Coulter-Nile is fully fit and available for Thursday’s match after missing the Sri Lanka game due to back tightness.

“With his history and his back, and he is getting a bit tight in his back. he played three games [in seven days] and I don’t think he has done that for a long time. He’s fit and he’s certainly fit to play the next game.”

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Adam Zampa sat out Australia’s last two matches while Nathan Lyon has yet to play in the World Cup but Langer was comfortable with the decision to rely on part-timers rather than playing specialist spinners if conditions and the balance of the side favoured such an approach.

“That was more brought upon us because ‘Stoin’ became injured,” said Langer. “What was more exciting was how the two quicks took wickets in the middle overs. We know in one-day cricket you’ve got to take wickets in the middle overs. There’s not many wickets falling up front in this tournament. And the way our quicks pulled it back in the middle overs against Pakistan and Sri Lanka was brilliant.

“That’s something for us to think about as well in these conditions. It’s been pace that’s dominated the tournament. Over the last few years it’s been spin that’s dominated one-day cricket. That might change – it’s been wet, it’s been overcast, the wickets get a bit drier. This one looks dry. That’s been the trend so far and it’s worked really well.

“It might change when we get to Old Trafford for example. We might look at playing two spinners if it’s a dry wicket. It’s good to have those options.”

But before thoughts can turn to Manchester there is the considerable task of facing Bangladesh, who travelled to Nottingham on Tuesday, fresh from an emphatic win over West Indies in Taunton. Shakib Al Hasan comes into this match in outrageous form: he has two centuries and two half-centuries in four innings in the tournament so far, in addition to taking five wickets.

“Well, we’ve got our plans against him, but he’s playing well,” said Langer. “I think he is the No.1 allrounder in the world, it’s no surprise. He’s a very good cricketer. But we’ll be prepared for him.”

Shakib and Bangladesh provide an intriguing challenge for Australia. They have not toured Australia for a bilateral series since 2008, which has been something of a sore point for Bangladesh cricket. At a time when Bangladesh have improved immensely as a one-day side, many of their players are still relatively unknown to the Australians, unlike most other teams in this World Cup.

“We haven’t played against them and when we do play against them they are usually in their conditions,” said Langer. “We’ve watched them closely, we’ve researched them closely. It’s a really important game for us in the scheme of the competition. They all are, but this one in particular, the way it’s starting to open up a little bit on the table. We’ll be well prepared and all our boys know that.”

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