Batsman Peter Handscomb will make his return to international cricket in the cauldron of a World Cup semi-final, while Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis have both held their spots for the clash against England at Edgbaston.
Handscomb, who is named to bat at No.4 behind Steve Smith at first drop, was confirmed as the only change to either side as Australia won what could be a crucial coin toss and elected to bat first on a bright morning in Birmingham.
Maxwell has kept his spot after some speculation this week he could make way for the knockout game while seam-bowling allrounder Stoinis has been ruled fit to play despite carrying injuries to both sides of his torso.
England will again go in with four specialist pace bowlers, plus seam-bowling allrounder Ben Stokes and leg-spinner Adil Rashid, resisting the temptation to bring spinning allrounder Moeen Ali in for Liam Plunkett.
Australia have never lost a semi-final and England haven’t won a knockout game in the World Cup since 1992, but the tournament hosts appear warm favourites after defeating India and New Zealand in their final group stage games.
England have won their past 10 games across all formats at Edgbaston.
The winner of Thursday’s game will face New Zealand in the final at Lord’s on Sunday.
Captain Aaron Finch flagged that Smith, who has a proven track record in World Cup knockout games, would move up to No.3 after Khawaja strained his hamstring in their game against South Africa on Saturday.
England captain Eoin Morgan confirmed he would have also batted first had he won the coin flip, but added he didn’t expect the pitch to deteriorate for their batting innings.
“Edgbaston has been a magnificent ground for a long time,” said Morgan, who led England to a high-scoring victory over India here earlier in the tournament.
“I’m not really bothered (about losing the toss).
“Before the World Cup, we preferred to chase so whoever plays the best cricket today will win.
“The last two games we’ve gone from strength to strength as a side, beating the two semi-finalists. It’s given us a bit of confidence heading into this game.”
After an up-and-down few months that saw him lose his Test spot, gain a foothold in a resurgent 50-over side, get married, then get squeezed out for the World Cup, Handscomb has bolted in for one of the biggest limited-overs games Australia have played in recent memory.
The right-hander edged out Matthew Wade for the final batting berth and Australia are confident he can handle the heat of a do-or-die match despite having not played all tournament.
Finch, who first alerted Handscomb by text message that a late call-up could be on the cards, has seen the 28-year-old make major strides in his limited-overs game.
“His improvement has been early in his innings in particular,” said Finch, whom Handscomb now captains at Victoria. “He’s someone who rotates the strike really well and doesn’t allow bowlers to bowl over after over at him, which is a real key ingredient of being a successful middle-order player.