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Marcus Stoinis

‘Was ready to go if given the chance’ – Turner reflects on game-changing innings

Ind v Aus, 4th ODI, reaction

Until Sunday, 10 March, against India in Mohali, Ashton Turner had played only six internationals for Australia.

But in that time, he had already earned endorsements from Ricky Ponting, coach Justin Langer, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch, and fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile. In a span of 43 balls, Turner vindicated all their faith.

Turner didn’t have it easy. When he walked in, Australia were 229/4 in a steep chase of 359. They needed 130 in 14 overs at over nine an over – manageable in the modern-day game. But this was a word-class Indian bowling attack, comprising Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and two of the best at the death in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

Turner, however, paid no respect to their reputations, and laid unsparingly into the Indian attack to stun them in a breathtaking chase. By the time he was done, Turner had made 84 of the 130 runs Australia had required when he came in. He made them in 43 balls, sending five balls to the fence, and six over it. Brought in only as a replacement for Marcus Stoinis, who had broken his thumb, Turner played a part in Australian history, sealing their highest successful chase in ODIs, with 13 balls to spare.

"I turned up to the ground today and Marcus Stoinis was doing a fitness test, he's got a broken thumb," Turner said at the presentation ceremony. "He's a pretty tough bloke, so I thought he'd get up and play and I'd be running drinks again. It was a last-minute [situation], to transition my mind from not playing to playing.

Ashton Turner benefitted from Marcus Stoinis' absence due to injury
Ashton Turner benefitted from Marcus Stoinis' absence due to injury

"I feel like I've had a great opportunity to hit lots of balls in the nets and get used to these conditions behind the scenes. I had a lot of confidence I was ready to go if I was given the chance.

"It's not every day that we get to play this well as a team in foreign conditions, and I thought India played really well as well. It was a great game of cricket."

Turner’s performance in Mohali was in keeping with the reputation he has garnered in franchise T20 cricket. Turner makes his T20 runs at a strike-rate of 138.72. He has seven fifties in the format and is a handy off-spinner, with an economy rate of under seven. Those are the numbers of a high-utility player.

Those that have seen Turner bat in the Big Bash League are well-aware of his destructive potential. That includes Matthew Hayden, the former Australia opener, whom Turner has idolised. Long before Turner, Hayden set the template for batting in Indian conditions, where he averages 54.50 and has six fifties and a hundred in 15 innings. It was, in fact, Hayden who presented Turner with his maiden ODI cap in Hyderabad.

"Haydos has been great to me," Turner said. "I was really privileged to get my cap presented by Haydos in Hyderabad. I'm still nervous standing around and talking with him. He's spent a lot of time with me in the nets, was a brilliant player of spin bowling, especially over here in India. It's great to just sit down and talk batting with him. He's a legend and someone I always looked up to."

Matthew Hayden has been a frequent presence in the Australian nets during their India tour
Matthew Hayden has been a frequent presence in the Australian nets during their India tour

Several hands went into making this Australian victory possible. Pat Cummins ran through the Indian middle order late into their innings to deny them a potential 400-plus total. Usman Khawaja followed up his maiden one-day century in Ranchi with 91, and along with Peter Handscomb, set the foundation from which Turner launched his onslaught later on. Handscomb went on to complete his maiden one-day hundred before falling in the final Powerplay for 117 off 105 balls.

But when all was said and done, it was Turner who stood tall and deservedly took home the honours, and Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, said as much. "Ashton played a hell of a knock,” he said. “Handscomb played a really good innings to hold the innings together, Khawaja was good again. But Ashton's innings was the game-changer."

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