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Australia batsman Handscomb inches closer to World Cup spot

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Australia batsman Handscomb inches closer to World Cup spot
FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Australia v Pakistan - Third Test cricket match - Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia - 4/1/17 Australia's Peter Handscomb hits a boundary. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo   -   Copyright  David Gray(Reuters)
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MUMBAI (Reuters) – After a roller-coaster summer when he was dropped from the Australian test side and ignored in the limited-overs formats, Peter Handscomb is inching closer to cementing a spot for this year’s 50-over World Cup.

The right-handed batsman struggled for runs in the home test series against India and was subsequently dropped for the two tests against Sri Lanka.

He was also left out for the white-ball matches against South Africa at home and a spot in the Australian middle order for the World Cup appeared a remote possibility.

However, the 27-year-old scored heavily for Victoria in the One-Day Cup campaign and earned a recall for the three one-day internationals against India at home.

On Sunday, he struck his maiden ODI hundred to help Australia chase down a record 359 and level the five-match series at 2-2.

“It’s a fickle game,” he told reporters after Australia’s four-wicket victory at Mohali. “I’m just pumped to be in an Australian team.

“Obviously, it was shattering to get dropped from the test squad, it was something I’d been priding myself on, trying to be a strong red-ball player for Victoria and always pushing my case for Australia.

“So that hurt. But on the flip side, to now be pushing my case in white-ball (cricket), it’s a beautiful feeling and how quickly the highs and lows change within cricket.”

Handscomb, who said he has worked with former Australia test opener Chris Rogers on his technique, has not had a consistent run in the 50-overs format since his debut in January 2017 and Sunday’s match was only the 15th of his career.

He notched up two fifties in the three matches against India at home and has also been solid on the tour.

In their penultimate match of the series in India, Australia were stumbling at 12-2 before Handscomb, who scored 117, and Usman Khawaja added 192 runs to put their chase back on track.

“I’m pretty happy,” he said after hitting eight fours and three sixes in his 105-ball knock. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to play a one-dayer again.

“It’s funny how things change but it was nice to get that opportunity in Australia and take it, then to have faith (from) the selectors to keep me in, it was nice to get (maiden hundred) today. It was pretty special.”

Australia will be defending champions at the Cricket World Cup, to be hosted by England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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