Finch plays down Maxwell absence ahead of World Cup semi

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - Australia v South Africa - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 6, 2019 Australia's Usman Khawaja in action Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell’s absence from a net session does not mean he will miss the World Cup semi-final against England, his captain Aaron Finch said on Wednesday.

Maxwell has endured a poor run of form in the tournament, scoring 155 runs in nine innings at an average of 22.14, prompting speculation he could be dropped for the match at Edgbaston on Thursday.

“It’s a purely optional training session. You’re reading a bit too much into it,” Finch told a news conference.

“Maxi is someone who 50% of the time comes down to optional sessions. Most of the bowlers aren’t here, Davey (Warner) isn’t here. We’ll name our side tomorrow at the toss, as usual.”

Maxwell’s top score in the tournament was his unbeaten 46 against Sri Lanka and he has failed to make the most of his power-hitting ability in the death overs.

Matthew Wade, who replaced the injured Usman Khawaja in the squad, could be thrown straight into the team while coach Justin Langer has confirmed that Peter Handscomb is set to make his World Cup debut.

Finch backed the 30-year-old Maxwell to play a pivotal role as Australia chase back-to-back 50-overs World Cup titles.

“There’s runs around the corner,” Finch added. “He’d like to have scored more but he’s hitting the ball nicely. We know how destructive he can be when he’s in.

“His contributions in the field are up there with most runs saved and he got a great run out at Taunton against Pakistan. And the overs he’s bowled have been really, really key for us too. What he brings is still a very exciting package.”

Finch’s side edged out England in a World Cup warm-up game in May, before paceman Jason Behrendorff’s five-wicket haul helped Australia to a group-stage victory over the hosts at Lord’s.

Although Australia lead the head-to-head in World Cups 6-2, Finch wants his players to focus on gaining momentum in key stages of the match.

“I think we take a lot of confidence into the game,” he said.

“I thought our processes (in both games) were really good, we won some really key moments in the game which was crucial as well.

“It will be about which team takes the opportunities, takes that half chance, grabs the momentum and runs with it as much as they can.”

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