Cricket news 2023: Australians rocked as Ashton Agar ruled out of World Cup with calf injury

Australian spinner Ashton Agar is set to be ruled out of the World Cup in yet another blow for Australia’s World Cup hopes.

Agar flew home from the tour of South Africa for the birth of his firstborn child, but had also been battled a calf injury that has not improved, Code Sports reports.

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It comes after a broken hand to Travis Head will also see him miss the majority of the tournament.

The Australian selectors will finalise a formal 15-man squad on Thursday for the World Cup which begins in India on October 5, trimming down a preliminary 18-man squad named in August.

Tanveer Sangha, who played the third ODI last night against India and took one for 61 from his allocation, looms as a replacement for Agar, and is the only other specialist spinner in India in addition to stalwart Adam Zampa.

Sangha’s inclusion would leave Australia with no specialist alternatives to leg-spin in the squad, with Travis Head’s off-spin also ruled out.

Glenn Maxwell will likely be called upon throughout the tournament, and took 4 for 40 in a career-best showing overnight in Rajkot, but selectors have historically been reticent to use him as a primary option.

Marnus Labuschagne’s leg-spin could also present itself as a possibility, with the Queenslander having branched out with the ball in limited-overs formats over the last couple of years.

The Australians conclude their tour of India having been beaten 2-1 in a comprehensive ODI series loss, and will now play five T20Is before World Cup warm-ups against the Netherlands and Pakistan.

Despite the series loss, there were bright sparks in the sole win in Rajkot, with the batting line-up finally firing on the back of 96 from Mitchell Marsh, on top of 70s from Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne in oppressive heat.

Marsh battled “full body cramps” in making 96 in intense daytime heat and couldn’t even field as a result.

Maxwell, who returned with four wickets in the 66-run win, declared he’ll be ”fresh” for the World Cup after missing the past 10 Australian white-ball games.

Marsh, who captained the side in the interim in the absence of Pat Cummins, said the performance was exactly what the Australians were looking for a week out from their World Cup opener, which will be once again against India on October 8.

“I thought the way we all batted today was the way we want to go about it moving into the World Cup. It was a really good template of how we want to play out cricket,” he said.

“It gave us an opportunity to have our hitters in at the end, which is what you want, and the bowling was class. We summed up the conditions really well. Tanveer Sangha was brilliant and it was a really good all-round performance.

“Today was a step in the right direction for our team.”

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