Injured Stoinis back as batter in IPL loss

Rahul Tripathi was Kolkata's hero, hammering the winning six against Delhi to reach the IPL final.
Rahul Tripathi was Kolkata's hero, hammering the winning six against Delhi to reach the IPL final.

Marcus Stoinis will be put through his paces after linking up with Australia's Twenty20 World Cup squad, having returned from a hamstring injury as a batter in a season-ending Indian Premier League loss.

Stoinis, who had been on the sidelines since tweaking his hamstring on September 22, scored 18 as his Delhi Capitals suffered a three-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the knockout final.

The hulking allrounder failed to bowl as Kolkata scraped their way to a victorious 7-136 with one ball to spare, while teammate Steve Smith served as substitute fielder in his absence.

Australia are confident Stoinis, who has resumed bowling, will be ready to go for their World Cup opener against South Africa on October 23.

But coach Justin Langer, who stewed over Stoinis' stop-start injury woes during the 2019 ODI World Cup, is certain to keep a close eye on the hamstrung heavy hitter in coming days.

Australia have a pair of World Cup warm-up games, giving the West Australian plenty of opportunity to prove his fitness with bat and ball.

Stoinis has batted in the middle order for the Ricky Ponting-coached Capitals, the same role he is set to play at the World Cup, but was promoted to first drop upon his return.

"We thought long and hard about where Marcus' best spot would be," Ponting said.

"He missed about three weeks with that hamstring injury, so he hadn't played any cricket.

"We desperately wanted him in the team today because we knew he could bat at the top of the order, but we also knew he could bat at the death if required.

"It was the right decision."

The result leaves Josh Hazlewood, who has exhibited impressive T20 form in recent weeks, as Australia's final World Cup squad member still competing in the IPL.

Hazlewood will spearhead Chennai Super Kings' quest for a fourth IPL title at 1am AEDT on Saturday, when his side face Kolkata in the final.

Kolkata appeared to be sailing to victory over Delhi before they lost seven wickets for 40 runs, leading to a dramatic last-over finish.

Ponting's side topped the table after the regular season, with this near-miss coming a year after they lost the title decider to Mumbai Indians.

A 'mega auction' will be staged ahead of the 2022 season, accommodating the addition of two new sides and triggering widespread player movement.

David Warner has all but confirmed he will be moved on by Sunrisers Hyderabad, while it remains unclear whether Smith and Stoinis will be retained by the Capitals.

"I'd love to keep everyone," Ponting said.

"It is a terrific group of people."

Australian Associated Press