Marnus Labuschagne fell from Australian ODI side for season opener against Zimbabwe

Australian white-ball captain Aaron Finch has revealed the starting squad for Sunday’s first ODI against Zimbabwe, confirming that Marnus Labuschagne has been dropped for the season opener in Townsville.

The summer of cricket kicks off this weekend at Riverway Stadium and Australia will form an almost full squad for the historic one-day series against Zimbabwe.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc will all be featured in the three-game series in northern Queensland, with test captain Pat Cummins resting.

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But speaking to reporters in Townsville, Finch revealed there was no place for Labuschagne in the starting lineup, which is dominated by all-rounders.

Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green have all been selected for the first ODI, giving Australia an abundance of bowling opportunities.

“We’re just going with an all-rounder heavy side,” explained Finch.

“Two quicks plus Zampa, and Cameron Green as the fourth real bowler. And then effectively use Marsh, Stoinis, Maxwell as our fifth bowler.

“It’s a way of extending our clout and I think it’s important that we keep trying to juggle the structure of the team a little bit in the coming period.

“We don’t want to be pigeonholed into playing in a certain team structure.”

Labuschagne will be effectively replaced by Smith, who missed the second half of the ODI series against Sri Lanka with a quad injury.

Speak with News Corp this week Labuschagne dismissed the idea that he and Smith are fighting for the same spot in the starting XI for next year’s World Cup in India.

“Obviously Steve has had a few injuries in the last few months so we haven’t had a chance to really hit too much together in that middle order,” he said.

“It’s definitely one where I think if you look at us hitting it in the middle, we have chemistry.

“We play very well against each other and we can play that game with high intensity.

“It probably doesn’t look the same as if you have a big hitter who might go down the middle at 10… center and hopefully we can get more opportunities to grow that middle position together.”

Labuschagne has scored 677 runs in 20 strokes since making his ODI debut in January 2020, including an emotional century against South Africa at Potchefstroom a few months later.

But the 28-year-old’s form in the 50-over format has declined since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, averaging 26.57 with the bat in his last 14 ODIs.

Labuschagne struggled during Australia’s recent tour of Sri Lanka, scoring 116 runs in five games with a personal best of 31 in Colombo.

But the Queenslander had previous success at Riverway Stadium, averaging 84.25 over five strokes at the Townsville venue.

‘The ground is great. I don’t think I’ve lost here yet, I’ve had three wins from three games,” Labuschagne told reporters on Friday.

“We (Queensland) played here last year and the course was pretty good.

“In the end we beat Tasmania in both the one day and the Shield game.

“It was a little early, but it was actually really good for the spinners … that was for Shield cricket, so I think this wicket will be a bit flatter.”

The series opener against Zimbabwe marks Australia’s first ODI on home soil since December 2020, more than 600 days ago.

Australian XI for first ODI vs Zimbabwe

Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood

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