Fit-again superstar Steve Smith has played his first cricket match in five months, top-scoring with 39 as the Delhi Capitals suffered a three-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
Smith was forced to miss Australia's limited-overs tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh because of an elbow injury.
Earlier this month, the batsman landed in the UAE for the second phase of the IPL as he sought to shake off the rust ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup.
Delhi coach Ricky Ponting, having recruited Smith for the bargain basement price of $A389,000 at the start of this year, opted against picking the right-hander in recent matches.
Smith was overlooked after compatriot Marcus Stoinis suffered his untimely hamstring injury but the enforced omission of Prithvi Shaw meant the Australian opened the batting against Kolkata.
Smith batted for an hour then chopped on a delivery from express paceman Lockie Ferguson in Sharjah, where the Capitals failed to hit a single six in their total of 9-127.
"Not an easy surface ... it's one of those wickets, you just have to scrap," Smith told broadcasters.
It remains unclear whether Smith will remain in the XI, with Delhi captain Rishabh Pant indicating Shaw should be fit for the franchise's next game.
"When Steve Smith played in Chennai (earlier this year) he did a good job for us," Pant said.
"We thought we're going to give him a chance and see how he does."
Australia coach Justin Langer will be desperate for Smith and David Warner, recently dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad for the second time this season, to get on the park as much as possible in coming weeks.
However, Warner is not expected to be recalled by the Sunrisers after watching their last-start win on television from the team hotel.
Australia's white-ball captain Aaron Finch has returned to the nets in Melbourne as he recovers from knee surgery but it remains unclear whether Stoinis will play another IPL game before linking up with Australia's T20 World Cup squad.
Pant noted the hulking allrounder will take longer to return than Shaw; Delhi only have three regular-season games remaining before a likely finals appearance.
Glenn Maxwell is one of few Australians to enjoy a productive IPL stint, having smacked a brisk 56 earlier this week that earned high praise from his Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians also joined the race for the IPL playoffs with a six-wicket victory over Punjab Kings.
Nathan Ellis, one of Australia's three travelling reserves for the T20 World Cup, recorded figures of 1-12 from three overs for the Kings.
Ellis snared a hat-trick on T20 debut for Australia earlier this year, extending a remarkable rise.
The paceman shifted from Sydney to Hobart and spent two seasons toiling away in grade cricket and working a series of jobs before being invited to train with Tasmania's squad in the winter of 2019.
Australian Associated Press