Usman Khawaja © Getty Images
Usman Khawaja © Getty Images

Australia captain Steven Smith has defended their decision to ignore Usman Khawaja for the first One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand resume their rivalry in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy 2015-16 for a three-match One-Day International (ODI) series on Wednesday. Australia surprised many when they went ahead with Shaun Marsh and ignored Khawaja, including the opposition captain Brendon McCullum. Khawaja was included in the side in place of the injured Aaron Finch, and will be forced to carry drinks during the first ODI slated on Wednesday at the Eden Park in Auckland. Khawaja was a part of the playing XI, when he was dismissed for 14, during the final Twenty20 International against India at Sydney. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD AND UPDATES: New Zealand vs Australia 2015-16, 1st ODI at Auckland

Smith told Cricket Australia (CA) website, “Shaun has been in the squad, he played well in Australia, and I think he deserves the first opportunity so he is going to get that out here tomorrow.” ALSO READ: New Zealand, Australia poles apart in reading Eden Park pitch in Auckland for 1st ODI

Smith continued, “The one-day side’s a tough side to break into. We’re the current world champions; we’re playing some very good one-day cricket. The batters have been scoring lots of runs; we’ve scored 300 on every occasion in the recent one-day series at home.”

Smith admitted that Khawaja, despite doing everything he can to make it into the national side, will be frustrated after being excluded. “No doubt he’d be frustrated. I think he [Khawaja] will play one of the games (in New Zealand) at least. He does need a hit going into what is a big Test series for us (following the ODI matches) and he is batting extremely well, so he is unlucky to miss out.”

The Australian captain concluded, “But Shaun is going to get the first opportunity as he played well in Australia and he is batting extremely well.” Australia and New Zealand will also be involved in a three-Test series for the Trans-Tasman Trophy 2015-16, to be played after the end of the ODI series.