Mitch Marsh returns to Test squad for Boxing Day Test against India at Peter Handscomb’s expense
Peter Handscomb will not get the chance to play in front of his home fans in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG as selectors have opted to recall all-rounder Mitch Marsh to face India with the series tied at 1-1.
- Mitch Marsh was included in the initial 14-man squad for the Test series against India
- Peter Handscomb was preferred for the the first two Tests but has not posted a significant score
- Mayank Agarwal will debut and Rohit Sharma returns as India axes its openers
Marsh last played a Test in October against Pakistan, scoring 18 runs and taking two wickets, earning a recall thanks in part to Handscomb’s run of outs.
Handscomb has struggled in recent times, failing to pass 50 in his past 10 Test innings and barely making an impact against India through two games with scores of 34, 14, 7 and 13 in Adelaide and Perth.
In fact, the Victorian has failed to reach three figures in 22 successive innings since notching two tons in his first six digs.
Marsh returns to the team with a similar recent batting record — averaging 11 across 11 knocks since a 96 in South Africa in March — but should be called on to relieve Australia’s powerful bowling attack in Melbourne.
Australia is keen to ease the burden on star pacemen Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon on a drop-in deck that, despite promises of offering a bit for both batters and bowlers, is not expected to offer great assistance for the latter.
After the MCG provided a “poor” pitch that led to a run-fest during last summer’s Ashes, Australia coach Justin Langer acknowledged a fifth bowler was a luxury he would like to have.
“In a perfectly balanced side you have someone who can bowl some overs, so Mitch becomes an attractive commodity on a wicket [like the MCG],” Langer said.
“Unlike Adelaide and Perth where we knew it would be an even contest [between bat and ball].
“Although there’s some grass and moisture [in Melbourne], we also know the history of it.”
For India, openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have both been axed, with Mayank Agarwal to make his debut.
Rohit Sharma will return from the back strain that forced him to miss the Perth Test, but spinner Ravi Ashwin has not recovered from his abdominal strain in time to play.