Steve Smith skips second training session with thigh problem

Australia still confident skipper Steve Smith will play against South Africa on Monday despite missing the training for the second consecutive day because of a thigh problem.

On Friday Smith was a mere spectator when his teammates participated in a 2-hour fielding session in Barbados and again decided to skip the main training session on Saturday.

The Australian skipper had a problem with tightness in his right quad early in his innings during the defeat to West Indies in St Kitts last Tuesday. Later he was seen strapping his leg by physiotherapist David Beakley.

But he seemed to be ok during the match at Warner Park, scoring a polished 74 before fielding during the run chase.

Smith, always being a tireless worker often the last player to finish training, suddenly skipping two back to back sessions is quite unusual.

He was earlier expected to bat at Saturday’s training but that didn’t happen, but he himself believes he will bat in the nets on Sunday and is also ready to play the match against the Proteas.

“I know it’s all precautionary and he’ll be ready to go for Sunday’s clash,” said the fast bowler Mitchell Starc.

“I’m sure he’s raring to go and to hit a few cricket balls.”                              

With opener Warner already ruled out from the series because of a finger injury, Australia cannot afford to lose another of their in-form batsmen as they fight for the ODI tri-series final spot.

Smith and fellow top-order batsmen Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and vice-captain George Bailey will have to carry the bulk of the batting load while rookie Travis Head, all-rounders Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner along with wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade will be seen in the middle and lower order.

If another batsman picks up a series-ending injury, it would make the situation worse for a player to make the long journey from Australia and subsequently adjust to the Caribbean condition  in time.

Smith, coach Justin Langer and selector-on-duty Trevor Hohns were seen engaged in a long conversation at training on Saturday, maybe the discussion was all about team selection. Starc is all set to return against the Proteas after having been rested for the Windies match.

Australia’s place in the tri-series final right now looks far from secure as all three teams holding a record of two wins and two losses from their respective four matches.

A loss to South Africa in the next match would force the Australians in a must win situation against the Windies just 48 hours later to keep their fate in their own hands.

The Proteas and Windies will face each other in the final group match on June 25 before the final two days later.

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