Cricket World Cup: Steve Smith set to bat at No 3, struggling Glenn Maxwell could be dropped for semi-final
Steve Smith averages 32.66 at the 2019 World Cup. © AFP

Steve Smith is in line for a promotion to No 3 in Australia‘s lineup for Thursday’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 semi-final in Birmingham, where the defending champions meet hosts England for a place in the final.

The move to shift former Australia captain Smith up one spot, said skipper Aaron Finch, would likely be taken keeping in mind his success at one-down in the previous World Cup four years ago. Sandwiched between half-centuries in the quarter-final and final of the 2015 World Cup was a match-winning century against India in the semi-final at the SCG.

“That is probably likely, I will be honest,” said Finch when asked about Smith batting at No 3 at Edgbaston. “He is one of the best players in the world. We saw at the last World Cup, at the business end, a quarter-final, he got 65, semi-final hundred, final 56 not out. We will still have to weigh that up, we are doing our due diligence with all our XIs that we hypothetically throw up. We will wait and see but it’s a fair chance, no doubt.”

Smith has three fifties in nine innings during this World Cup, for an average of 32.66. All three fifties came in Australia’s first five matches, and since then he has scores of 1, 38, 5 and 7. Six of these innings came while Smith batted at No 4, with two chances at one-down and once at No 6.

In related news, Australia coach Justin Langer on Tuesday confirmed that Peter Handscomb will make his World Cup debut in the semi-final, replacing the injured Usman Khawaja.

glenn maxwell world cup 2019 stats
Aaron Finch: “When you go with Maxwell as your fifth bowler, it can potentially leave you a bit thin, at times.” . © IANS

With Handscomb getting the nod, Australia may be tempted to play Matthew Wade as well. In this scenario, Glenn Maxwell may find himself dropped for the semi-final after averaging 22.14 in the tournament.

Finch spoke of fellow allrounder Marcus Stoinis‘ impact on the team, which indicates that Wade could replace Maxwell.

“When we didn’t have him in the side we were quite thin with the ball,” said Finch. “That is why the allrounder role is such an important one. He has done a great job with the ball for us for quite a while now and with the bat he has made some crucial runs at times as well.

“He is a really important member of the squad and you can’t overlook the point of team balance when you are looking at all of that stuff.

“When you go with Maxwell as your fifth bowler, it can potentially leave you a bit thin, at times. I know we did it a couple of games due to circumstances of injury, but it is a tough one to manage at times when you have got a good part-timer as your fifth bowler.”