Adelaide: The sense Australia's imminent Twenty20 series against India will be a proving ground for World Twenty20 selection has intensified, with chief selector Rod Marsh suggesting at least two players outside the current squad would make the final cut for India.
Usman Khawaja is all but certain of making Australia's 15-man squad for the tournament in March, despite having not played a limited-overs match for Australia for three years and having yet to play a Twenty20 international.
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"Well, would you pick him in your T20 side at the moment? God, three blokes [who are fellow selectors] are going to have to give me a pretty good case to change my mind," Marsh said on Monday, when asked about the prospects of the 29-year-old being chosen for the World T20 despite being excluded from the three-match series against India.
"Usman is right up there in terms of being included in the T20 world cup squad."
George Bailey is another players who also could leapfrog current Twenty20 squad members for selection.
Nathan Lyon is part of the Twenty20 squad to face India this week but will not be part of the one-day squad in New Zealand. He will instead play in the Sheffield Shield match over there between New South Wales and Western Australia, to begin on February 3.
Lyon was given a long-awaited recall to the one-day team in the just-completed series against India. Marsh said the off-spinner was hindered by having to bowl at India's deep batting order on pitches at Manuka Oval and the SCG that were not conducive to spin.
"Tough call on Nathan. We honestly thought that Canberra and Sydney might turn . . . and neither of them did. As it turned out, I think we got that wrong," Marsh said. "I think, believe it or not, Melbourne and Brisbane probably turned more than Canberra and Sydney, which is amazing."
The spin slot held by Lyon for the just-completed series will be filled against the Black Caps by Adam Zampa, an uncapped leg-spinner who represents South Australia and Melbourne Stars.
Marsh confirmed Zampa and fellow leggie Cameron Boyce, who is part of Australia's Twenty20 squad to face India, are competing for one spot in the World Twenty20 squad.
Marsh said Zampa, 23, offered a "a pretty good package", because he was also a handy fielder and batsman - and is happy to be a scrapper on the field. He added that Boyce, 26, was 'also a pretty good package".
The chief selector said they would compare Boyce's performances in Australia against India to Zampa's away to New Zealand when it came to settling on a World Twenty20 squad, but he conceded the uncertainty about pitch conditions in New Zealand could hinder a direct comparison.
Australia Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch suggested it was probably a similar scenario for Chris Lynn and Travis Head, who have been chosen for the Twenty20 series based on their blistering form in the Big Bash League.
All 17 of Australia's players will get an opportunity across the three-match series, which begins on Australia Day in Adelaide. It is expected that Test and one-day captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner will be among the players who leave Australia before the end of the Twenty20 series, in order to better prepare in New Zealand for the three one-dayers. Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade is expected to join them, which would create a vacancy for the end of the Twenty20 series.