“Marsh may or may not feature in the Test series against Sri Lanka, but he will try to make the best of his chance in the ODI series, incidentally, against India once again in the subcontinent”

A lot of questions have been asked over Shaun Marsh’s place in the Australian Test team, but when it comes to the ODIs, he has turned a corner in the last one year or so to become one of his side’s most dependable batsmen in the middle-order. He has already slammed a fifty and a hundred in the two ODIs in 2019 to go with the three centuries he scored previous year. His 131 off 123 at Adelaide will go down as one of the best innings, he has played, but like his three centuries in 2018, this too has come in a losing cause. With Australia’s woes in recent times, Marsh’s assured approach is without a doubt a big bonus for his side.

Australia in the recent past have not won many series. They now find themselves with a great chance to win this series in the final ODI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Their problem at the moment does not seem to be with their batting, but it is one of the seamers – Peter Siddle – who has been leaking a lot of runs as a result of which they are not able to choke the opposition. With Billy Stanlake in the squad, he should be an automatic pick for the series decider.

If you take a peek at the Australian batting line-up, there is a lot of talent, experience, and potential in there. With Glenn Maxwell batting as low as 7, Australia have enough depth in their batting. But regardless of that, someone in the top-order has to take responsibility and look to score big. Marsh will not do it every time, he will have an off day and will need his teammates to support him at the time of need. Marsh has never been a permanent fixture in Australia’s XI over the years, but in the absence of Steven Smith in the middle-order he Marsh has taken over the responsibility of being one of the most experienced players well, leading from the front with the bat.

Also read: Justin Langer plays a huge role in Shaun Marsh’s successful comeback

Marsh’s last 10 innings in ODIs and in Tests tell a different story. In his previous 10 ODIs, he has faced strong bowling attacks of New Zealand, England, South Africa, and India. He has come out on top against every opposition. However, in his previous 10 tests, he has not scored a century and has scored just a couple of fifties in that period – both against India. Australia have been through a tremulous time in this period, but Marsh is at least showing his true potential in the 50-over format.

When on a song, Marsh is a treat to watch. His cuts, pulls, and drives are eye-catching and more often than not, needs a good ball to get him out. With the imminent return of Smith in the next month or two, it will be really harsh on Marsh if he were to make way. Since, the ICC World Cup 2015, Marsh has a higher average than Smith and has scored at a better rate as well – even though he has played significantly lesser matches than Smith. Marsh has played just 16 matches and has slammed 785 runs at 49.06, which includes 4 hundreds and 3 fifties. Smith, on the other hand, has played as many as 50 matches – three times more than – Marsh – and has scored 1,882 runs at 42.77, with the help of 4 hundreds and 12 fifties.

In fact, Marsh’s average shoots up to 66.77 since the Champions Trophy 2017, while Smith averages just 24.40. There is very little doubt about Marsh’s growth as a one-day batsman over the years and now, maybe because of certain circumstances, he has been given his just reward and is not disappointing the team. With the World Cup just months away, with each passing innings, Marsh makes a case for himself not just to be included in the squad, but in the playing XI. Going by current form, he is certainly among the first names in the team sheet, but for Australian to defend their World Cup title, Marsh’s form will once again be critical. Marsh has scored three 50-plus scores from his 8 innings in England at 46.50 and a strike-rate of nearly 100, which further pushes his case for a berth in the Australian XI for the World Cup.

Marsh may or may not feature in the Test series against Sri Lanka, but he will try to make the best of his chance in the ODI series, incidentally, against India once again in the subcontinent. Marsh is no stranger to playing in the subcontinent, but this time, he will head there as one of the most dependable players for Australia – someone who the team can count on when the chips are down and drag them to safety. That’s the Shaun Marsh Australia need.

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