SA vs AUS: Marnus Labuschagne serves timely reminder to selectors with gritty knock as World Cup approaches
Even though Marnus Labuschagne wasn't picked for Australia's 15-members ODI World Cup team, he doesn't seem upset. On Thursday, the right-handed batsman played a great innings against South Africa in the first ODI of a five-match series, which his team won.
Labuschagne wasn't in the starting XI at first, but he was brought in as a concussion replacement after Kagiso Rabada hit all-rounder Cameron Green in the head with a hard bouncer. As a precaution, Green was taken out of the game.
This gave Labuschagne a chance to show the national officials how good he is as a middle-order batter in ODI cricket.
In the 12th over, when half of the Australian team was already back in the hutch, the 29-year-old hitter came up to bat. The team was in a tough spot, so Labuschagne had to do two things: keep wickets from falling from his end and lead the chase. The man from South Africa dug in and dealt with the storm almost perfectly.
He scored 80 runs without being out on just 93 balls during a run chase that was tense and called for skill. Labuschagne's run didn't have any risky shots and had eight fours, but it still had an excellent strike rate of 86.02 given how big the chase was.
At one point, he looked like he was going to be stuck in the middle because his teammates were getting out so quickly. However, spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar showed a lot of determination and came up with a plan that was as good as any to help the Aussies win the game.
Agar got 48 runs off of 69 balls, hitting three fours and one six. He helped Labuschagne, who was named Player of the Match, a lot, and the guests got to the goal in 40.2 overs with three wickets left.
Even though Australia has already picked their team for the big 50-overs event in India, teams can still make changes until September 28. This gives Labuschagne reason to be hopeful.