Injury concerns mount on Australia ahead of crucial match against Afghanistan

Defending champions Australia are grappling with injury concerns to three key players, including captain Aaron Finch who is uncertain to lead the side in their crucial T20 World Cup match against Afghanistan on Friday. Finch, Tim David and Marcus Stoinis suffered hamstring injuries during Australia’s 42-run win over Ireland at Brisbane on Monday. Finch batted for all but 19 balls of Australia’s innings for his 63 and then took the field for the Irish innings, before coming off in discomfort after a sprint.

While all-rounders David and Stoinis did not take the field during Ireland’s innings. Finch underwent a fitness Test here on Wednesday, doing a series of run-throughs and stretches of his hamstring, watched by team fitness staff and selection chair George Bailey. Finch’s injury was of the most concern for Australia given the 35-year-old’s history of hamstring injuries. “Little hammy twinge I think,” Finch said after the win on Monday. “I’ll get a scan tomorrow (Tuesday). Unfortunately, I’ve had a history with them so we’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t feel too bad at the moment but generally overnight they can stiffen up.

Aaron FinchAaron Finch bats during the match between Australia and Ireland. (AP)

“We’ll get a scan and get the full results, but I am very hopeful (of playing against Afghanistan) but we’ll know more (Tuesday).” If Finch is ruled out of the game, wicketkeeper Matthew Wade will captain Australia against Afghanistan. Wade had carried out captaincy duties after Finch came off the field against Ireland.

Young all-rounder Cameron Green could replace Finch as opener if the captain is ruled out. Green, who was a late inclusion to the squad in place an injured Josh Inglis, had centre wicket practice at Karen Rolton Oval, hitting a series of massive sixes in the background.

Australia need to beat Afghanistan on Friday to have a shot at qualifying for the semifinals. The all-important Net Run Rate (NRR), that could decide whether they qualify for the semifinals, lifted to -0.304 after the win against Ireland, but is still below England (0.239) and New Zealand (2.233). All the three teams are currently on five points after four matches.

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