Cummins to stay back in Australia, Steve Smith to lead side in ODI series

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Steve Smith. File
| Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Senior batter Steve Smith will lead Australia against India in the upcoming three-match ODI series as regular captain Pat Cummins, who lost his mother recently, will not return to the country for the white-ball contest.

Cummins had left for home after the second Test in Delhi to take care of his mother Maria, who died of breast cancer last week.

The first game of the three-match series will be played in Mumbai on March 17.

“Pat won’t be coming back, he’s still taking care of what’s happened back home,” Australia coach Andrew McDonald said.

“Our thoughts are with Pat and his family as they go through that grieving process,” Donald was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Cricket Australia has not named any replacement for Cummins in the 15-man squad. Smith had captained Australia in the last two Tests of the four-match series that India won 2-1 to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

India won the first two Tests while Australia emerged victorious in the third match in Indore. The Ahmedabad game ended in a dull draw.

Nathan Ellis was recently recalled to the ODI squad after Jhye Richardson made a late withdrawal having been forced to undergo a hamstring surgery.

A struggling David Warner, who has not been among the ODI squad members training in Ahmedabad in recent days, is set to return to the side after missing the final two Tests due to an elbow injury.

On the pace front, Josh Hazlewood, who also captained the ODI team during the England series when Cummins missed a match, is absent due to an injury.

Ashton Agar has returned after being sent home midway through the Test series and is likely to form a spin partnership with Adam Zampa.

The series will also mark the returns of Glenn Maxwell (broken leg) and Mitchell Marsh (ankle surgery) from serious injuries.

“We’ve got a couple conversations around the balance of the team we want to play, we’ve gone in with a structure with eight batters to bat a little bit deeper, we’ve tried that,” said McDonald.

“So there’ll be a mix of combinations as we lead into the World Cup.

“[There is] a lot of all-rounders picked in the squad and can they all play in the one team? So we’ve got to answer a few of those questions.” The ODI series is important for Australia given that India is hosting the ODI World Cup in October-November.

Cummins took over the ODI job after Aaron Finch’s retirement last year but has led the side in just two matches so far.

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