T20 World Cup: Australia defend decision of omitting Starc against Afghanistan

New Delhi, Jun 24 (IANS): After a defeat to Afghanistan in the T20 World cup Super 8 match, Australia head coach Andrew McDonald and captain Mitchell Marsh defended the 'tough move' of including spinner Ashton Agar in the playing XI in place of star pacer Mitchell Starc, citing the need for a spin on the sluggish surface.

Australia now find itself in a precarious position ahead of their final Super Eight fixture against India in St. Lucia on Monday. In their previous match on a slow, turning pitch in St. Vincent, Australia opted to include Agar as a second specialist spinner alongside Adam Zampa, leaving out Starc.

Agar performed well, conceding only 17 runs in his four overs, including a maiden over. But, Afghanistan’s strong opening partnership of 118 runs highlighted the absence of Starc's early striking capability.

"It's always a tough decision to leave Mitch Starc out of a team. But from the way that the game unfolded, Ashton was suited to these conditions and we needed to make room. We knew we were going to need more than eight overs of spin on that surface and it's probably something we've been planning and preparing for once we knew we were at this venue," McDonald was quoted by cricket.com.au.

"It's always a difficult decision. You never know whether you're right or wrong, but I thought Ashton bowled incredibly well today, used his skill, some good arm-balls, found some purchase early and he made it tricky to navigate through those first few overs," he added.

Marsh echoed McDonald’s sentiments, expressing regret over Starc's exclusion but underscoring the team’s strategic approach. "We've said right from the start of the tournament that we've got 15 guys here, and we'll pick a team that we think can win us the game in those certain conditions, and everything pointed towards Ash. The reality is, when you've got this much talent, someone's always unlucky to miss out."

Despite Agar's tight powerplay overs, Afghanistan managed a steady start, reaching 40 for 0 in the first six overs, contrasting sharply with Australia's rocky beginning, where they were 33 for 3 after six.

McDonald further highlighted the importance of focusing on the upcoming match against India rather than dwelling on the previous game. "There was no point trying to work out what might have happened if Starc had been selected. We got what we expected from the pitch at the Arnos Vale Ground.

"When you're hopping around the islands, the conditions change dramatically, and we got what we expected. I was comfortable with that decision and now we've got to turn our focus to India: a totally different line-up on a totally different surface, and we've got to make good decisions at the selection table," he concluded.



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Title: T20 World Cup: Australia defend decision of omitting Starc against Afghanistan

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