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Faulkner eager to kickstart World Cup campaign

James Faulkner and Steven Smith of Australia celebrate after taking the wicket of Moeen Ali of England during the One Day International series match between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 16, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)


Australia all-rounder James Faulkner said Monday he was raring to go against Afghanistan after fearing his World Cup might be over before it had started.

Last month, Faulkner suffered a side strain while bowling during Australia's 112-run tri-series final win over England in Perth - a match where he smashed a 24-ball 50 not out featuring four fours and as many sixes - and left the field at the WACA visibly in pain 

But now the 24-year-old Tasmanian hopes the same ground will witness his 2015 World Cup debut against tournament newcomers Afghanistan on Wednesday.

"I'd be lying to say I wasn't frustrated at the start," Faulkner told a news conference at the WACA on Monday. "Any time you get injured it's a shocking feeling.

"And to do it at the time it happened, it was obviously quite hard to take at the start.
"But it has given me some time to freshen up and get my body feeling good again.

"Hopefully it holds me in good shape come the end of this tournament."

Faulkner bowled several overs in the WACA nets on Monday and, provided there are no ill-effects, he should be available to face Afghanistan.

"I think I was lucky being a left arm bowler and a right arm batsman, it wasn't the same side (bearing the strain) when I was batting," he said.

Faulkner's recovery is timely for Australia given fast bowler Pat Cummins is set to miss Wednesday's match after he suffered a side strain during the thrilling one-wicket Pool A defeat by New Zealand in Auckland last weekend.

Fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood looks in line to take Cummins's place.

But with Shane Watson again under pressure after giving his wicket away against New Zealand and Glenn Maxwell not making much of an impression at Eden Park, Faulkner could replace one of his fellow all-rounders.

"I'm not too sure what they want to go in with, that's purely up to the selectors," Faulkner said. "All I can control is about getting back out on the park and giving myself a chance of playing again.

"The rest isn't my job and it's not for me to worry about. That's their decision at the end of the day."

As well as the drama of Saturday's climax, there was the light relief of Maxwell's 'choking' gesture to spectators as New Zealand lost nine wickets chasing a mere 152 for victory.

But Kane Williams ensured Black Caps fans in a capacity crowd at Eden Park had the last laugh when he sealed victory with a superb straight six off Cummins.

Faulkner insisted Maxwell's gesture and the loss itself had both been consigned to history by his team-mates.

"I saw it from the sidelines," Faulkner said.

"After the game everyone put that aside and we knocked that on the head."

Australia will look to return to winning ways with a full haul of points against Afghanistan, having managed just three from their first three matches after a 111-run win over England was followed by a washout against Bangladesh and last weekend's loss to New Zealand.