Cricket Australia has announced the squad that will take on India in two T20Is and five ODIs in February-March and the 16-member contingent includes two new names – Kane Richardson and Ashton Turner.
The banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner will continue to be on the sidelines due to their one-year ban but the big omissions from the Australian perspective are that of pacers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
While it is unclear why Hazlewood has not been picked, Starc will miss out due to a "substantial" injury to his pectoral muscle. In the same vein, national selector Trevor Hohns has said that Starc will play the World Cup and is targeting the series against Pakistan in the UAE for his return.
"Unfortunately, scans have revealed that Mitchell Starc sustained a substantial tear to his left pec muscle while bowling on the final day of the Test match in Canberra. This means he will be unavailable for the tour of India, but we will instead target a return to play for the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE in March," Hohns said.
The absence of the aforementioned certainties gives an opportunity to other players to throw their names in the World Cup hat and the biggest beneficiaries in this regard have been Richardson and Turner.
"Kane has been in outstanding form over the summer, including his recent performances in the BBL. Kane not only has experience playing ODI cricket for Australia, but he's also performed well for his country when given the opportunity," Hohns said.
Turner, who was called into the ODI squad against India following Mitchell Marsh's illness has been in terrific form in the Big Bash League where he has scored 378 runs at a strike rate of over 133.
"Ashton has been on our radar for some time, given his performances in the shorter formats," Hohns said. "Ashton is a smart cricketer who reads the game well and provides us with another strong batting option. He's been in good form over the summer, and he has an opportunity to put his case forward ahead of the World Cup."
The other notable absentees from the squad are Marsh and Peter Siddle. While elder brother Shaun is central to Australia's plans, the all-rounder's absence sends a big signal as to his fate in the World Cup. As for Siddle, he made his return to the ODI fold against India after 8 years and his stint did not last long.
D'arcy Short has been picked in the squad as cover for Shaun Marsh who will be available for selection from the third ODI onwards.
Squad: Aaron Finch (C), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa, D'Arcy Short (as cover for Shaun Marsh)