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Hughes to get big chance in ODI decider
By Liam FitzGibbon
18:43 AEST Sun Sep 15 2013

Out-of-favour opener Phil Hughes is set to get one final chance to impress as Australia attempt to end their UK cricket tour on a rare high in Monday's one-day "grand final" against England.

Opener Shaun Marsh has been ruled out of the series decider in Southampton with a hamstring injury, while captain Michael Clarke is in doubt after another flare up of his chronic back injury.

Clarke is desperate to play after Saturday's three-wicket defeat in Cardiff squared the rain-affected five-match series at 1-1, but the captain will not be risked if he's not fully fit.

He'll be given until the last minute to prove his fitness but Marsh's absence will almost certainly open the door for Hughes to make a first appearance for Australia in almost two months.

The 24-year-old batsman has not played a match for Australia in any format on the tour since being dropped following the second Ashes Test at Lord's.

With his place in the squad in jeopardy ahead of the upcoming one-day tour to India and the return Ashes series in Australia, Hughes will be thrown a big opportunity with coach Darren Lehmann confirming him as Marsh's likely replacement.

"We'll look at the pitch but I think that's the probably the way we'd go," Lehmann told AAP on Sunday.

"It gives him an opportunity. He's playing really well and working on his game and that's all we can ask.

"He's ready to go. Hopefully he gets his chance and away he goes."

Clarke, who led the way with a century in Australia's ODI win over England in Manchester, could open the selection door for Glenn Maxwell if he is ruled out.

Lehmann said no chances would be taken with the captain.

"It's a big game but if he's not right, we won't risk him," Lehmann said.

"It's an important series but we've got another one-day series and an Ashes series coming up."

The match represents a final chance for Australia to claim some silverware on a frustrating three-month tour that has featured a 3-0 Ashes defeat and a winless Champions Trophy campaign.

Australia have shown some strong signs in the ODI series, with the form of middle order batsman George Bailey and opening bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay among the most pleasing for Lehmann.

The coach says the side is playing the type of cricket he wants to see but still need to iron out silly mistakes.

"It gets down to a grand final set-up now which is great," Lehmann said.

"That's what we want the players put under most the time, although you would have loved to close out the series (in Cardiff).

"We're certainly playing the right brand of cricket, we just made a couple of elementary mistakes.

"Apart from that, we've pretty much played how we want to play. Now the case is we want to finish on a high and get moving on."

Leg spinner Fawad Ahmed looks likely to return to the side after being left out of the past two teams due to the conditions.


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