Men's ODI World Cup 2019

Carey playing for keeps as Cup looms

South Australian continues to impress as batting candidates hit top form ahead of World Cup

Sam Ferris in Delhi

13 March 2019, 11:14 AM AEST

Despite increased competition for batting spots and the impressive recent form of challenger Peter Handscomb, vice-captain Alex Carey appears to be in pole position in the race to be Australia's wicketkeeper at the World Cup.

Trevor Hohns said last week selectors were happy with Carey's progress as the gloveman batting at No.7 in the one-day side, and that was before the South Australian played two crucial knocks in India to help the tourists level the series and set up a decider in Delhi.

Carey's unbeaten 21 in the third match in Ranchi was part of a stand of 50 with Marcus Stoinis that vaulted Australia to a match-winning total of 5-313, while he provided a vital 21 from 15 balls in a stunning 86-run partnership with player of the match Ashton Turner in Saturday's record win in Mohali.

Aussie record-breakers down India

Hohns said Carey's main challengers for the World Cup keeping spot are Test captain Tim Paine, Tasmania skipper Matthew Wade and Handscomb, who is Australia's current T20I keeper having taken the gloves off Carey earlier in the tour.

While Carey appears to be the frontrunner, Handscomb's maiden ODI century in Mohali, the hot form of Turner and Usman Khawaja and the impending returns of Steve Smith and David Warner means the squeeze is on for positions in Australia's top seven.

With the World Cup less than three months away, Carey hopes his runs with the bat, tidy work with the gloves and Australia's winning ways will see him on the plane to England.

"Behind the stumps has been pretty good but I've really enjoyed the role I've played coming in late (in the innings)," Carey said. "And I think I've done a pretty good job.

Carey on Cup hopes, series decider

"Helping the other night get over the line with 'AT' (Turner), it would have been nice to be out there at the end (Carey was last man out with two runs to win).

"Again, with Stoinis the game before, putting on that extra 50 in the last five overs and then the first game (in Hyderabad where he made 36no) to help us get to a competitive score.

"I think my performances have been pretty solid.

"If we're winning games of cricket I guess it's hard to change a winning side.

"We've got a squad that's been together for a little while now and we're getting some good results. I'll leave that up to the selectors."

History beckons for Delhi decider

Hohns said taking the gloves for the whole World Cup might be too big an ask for a part-time keeper like Handscomb but added he would like to have a back-up gloveman in the Australia's 15-man squad.

"Alex Carey is in the incumbent here and we're pretty happy with the progress he's making," Hohns said last week. "Not just behind the stumps but with his batting – he's played a couple of pretty good innings of late. We're pretty happy the way he's going.

"Of course, there's pressure from a couple of wicketkeepers back home; we've got our Test wicketkeeper (Paine), he could be a consideration, there's Matthew Wade.

"Until we sit down and work out the makeup of our squad, I can't say there's a place for two wicketkeepers.

"It would be ideal to have a back-up wicketkeeper in that lot and that could mean a batsman who wicketkeeps."

Carey said he aims to keep learning how to close out games batting in the unfamiliar No.7 spot, adding he didn't have to look far on this tour for a role model to follow.

"You see (India champion MS) Dhoni, he takes the game really deep and generally gets them over the line," Carey said.

"I've had a couple of opportunities to do that and just fell short. For me, it's to keep developing that role and make sure in a run chase like that the other night, to go with 'AT' for a while and put on a good partnership was a really good feeling to be out there with him.

"If I can keep well first and foremost, that's the main thing. Helping us win games of cricket, No.7 is a crucial spot – it can mean an extra 20 or 30 runs."

Qantas Tour of India

First T20: Australia won by three wickets

Second T20: Australia won by seven wickets

First ODI: India won by six wickets

Second ODI: India won by eight runs

Third ODI: Australia won by 32 runs

Fourth ODI: Australia won by four wickets

Fifth ODI: March 13, Delhi