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Australia's riddle: who will partner Shane Watson at the top of the order?


Regardless of whether it’s Aaron Finch or Usman Khawaja partnering him at the top of the order, Shane Watson looms as Australia’s destroyer at the World Twenty20.

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National selectors have largely settled on an XI for the clash with New Zealand on Friday, when Australia start their push for elusive T20 glory in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

The only ongoing issue is the opening combination.

David Warner has been demoted to second drop, locking Finch and Khawaja in a battle for an opener’s berth.

Watson, who top-scored with 60 in Australia’s World T20 warm-up game against West Indies in Kolkata, looks certain to claim the other spot at the top.

“It’s nice to bat with someone like Shane, who is so brutal on an attack,” Finch said of the player of the tournament at the 2012 World T20.

“He probably takes a lot of pressure off his partner just by being there, without having to actually do much.

“He offers so much to everyone, with bat and ball … and tactically. When I was captain he was great to bounce ideas off.”

The fact Finch opened in Sunday’s practice match, while Khawaja batted in the middle order, suggests the Victorian has the inside running.

Especially given Finch scored 33 and shared a 76-run opening stand with Watson.

“I’ve got no idea to be honest. I’m just getting prepared to play as everyone is,” Finch said.

“I’m sure the selectors will make a call once they see the wicket… I feel as though I’ve been playing well and if I do get an opportunity I’ve got all the confidence that I can help Australia win.”

Finch, who has logged scores of 40, two and 33 since returning from a hamstring injury, said he’d be content whichever way selectors go.

“I’m sure it will be the right move for the team and the XI they think can win the game,” the former T20 skipper said.

Finch tops the International Cricket Council’s T20 batting rankings but last month was stripped of the T20 captaincy and pitched into a scrap for his spot in the side.

“I was injured when the captaincy was given to Steve. Then you hear a lot of talk while you’re not playing, so it’s hard to do anything about it,” he said.

“But at the same time all you can do is score runs when you get an opportunity.”

Finch, who was undone by West Indies beanpole spinner Sulieman Benn at Eden Gardens, suggested the slow pitch made it an ideal tune-up for the upcoming trans-Tasman clash.

“The wickets that have been on show in Dharamsala, from what we’ve seen so far in the qualifiers, they’ve been slow and turning quite big,” Finch said.

“Even though they’ve had a lot of rain up there… we probably learnt a lot more about ourselves today than if it was a good wicket.”


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