Aaron Finch has revealed Steve Smith is the most likely candidate to fill in at the number three spot in the upcoming T20I series Against India given Mitchell Marsh's absence. The skipper went on to laud Smith before outlining the team's approach in the run-up to the World T20 next month Down Under.
Australia have touched down in India and are all ready to take on the hosts in the first of three T20Is at Mohali on September 20. The Kangaroos are without the services of Mitchell Marsh, David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc for various reasons just one month ahead of the World T20 on home soil. Nevertheless, the defending champions have a strong core of players led by Aaron Finch, who recently retired from ODIs, and Test skipper Pat Cummins.
However, the absence of the two pace all-rounders has left a huge void in the batting order, especially in Marsh's position of number three. Finch has confirmed the team will consider pushing Steve Smith up the order from his usual position of four to make up for the loss.
"Most likely he (Steve Smith) will bat at three in this series with Mitch Marsh being out," he was quoted saying by India Today on the eve of the first T20I against India.
Smith has been in brilliant form of late, managing unbeaten knocks of 48 and 47 in the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe before a half-century and a first ODI ton in three years won him the man of the series award against the Kiwis in New Zealand. However, the 33-year-old has always been weaker in the game's shortest format, averaging a rather lowly 26.51 as compared to the lofty 60 in Tests. With a strike rate of 125.74, he has just four half-centuries in 57 T20Is and has regularly been dropped to number five in recent times to accommodate Glenn Maxwell alongside Marsh.
Regardless, Finch believes Smith has the minerals to perform any role given to him and the upcoming series will help Australia test their combinations in preparation for the marquee event.
"We know the quality that Steve's got. He is one of the best players that has ever played the game over all formats of the game. So we know the skill that he has got and the game sense and the tactical nous that he has got," Finch stated.
"There will be a little bit of mixing and matching, but still with that one eye towards the World Cup, to make sure that we are still as rounded as we can be as a squad. Every decision that we make, I think, has one eye towards the World Cup and seeing the wicket yesterday [in Mohali], it looked like there was quite a bit of grass on it. And we know in Mohali, the ball can swing around and it can carry through quite a bit, so I think we will be mindful of not being too narrow-minded in terms of our focus," he concluded.