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Labuschagne gives selectors something to ponder

Cricket - First ODI - South Africa vs Australia - Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, South Africa - September 7, 2023 Australia's Marnus Labuschagne during the match REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Marnus Labuschagne admitted he deserved to be dropped from Australia’s one-day squad for next month’s World Cup in India but could yet work his way back in after a match-winning performance against South Africa on Thursday.

Labuschagne came on as a concussion substitute for Cameron Green and hit an unbeaten 80 to dig Australia out of a hole and see them to a three-wicket victory.

Labuschagne is part of the squad for the South Africa tour as Steve Smith has stayed home because of a wrist injury but had not been down to play in Thursday’s clash at the Manguang Oval.

The 29-year-old, born in South Africa but raised in Queensland, said his mother had predicted he would play.

"She stayed for the whole game even though I wasn't playing for the first three and a half hours. She had a feeling and she was adamant before when I came here that I was going to play this game. And I told her I've seen the team, ‘I'm not in the team’. But she’s just got a feeling and once again, she's right."

Green went off after a rising ball from Kagiso Rabada hit him on the side of the head and Labuschagne came on as Australia were scoring quickly in response to South Africa’s mediocre tally of 222 but also losing wickets just as fast.

"Everything is out of my hands. I just need to make sure that every opportunity I get, I take it. And then if that means that something comes at the end of this series, if it's not, you know, I get to see my daughter, and that's a win," Labuschagne said.

“I wasn't too shocked when I was dropped. I said that to the selectors. But I did say that I still want to be that person for you batting in the middle order," he added. REUTERS