Mitchell Marsh dropped from Australian Test team for India clash
Australian skipper Tim Paine concedes Peter Handscomb surged into Australia’s first Test line-up as Mitch Marsh’s numbers didn’t stack up.
Coach Justin Langer had confirmed that Marcus Harris would open with Aaron Finch but the axing of allrounder Marsh was a statement about Australia’s weak spot entering the series opener against India in Adelaide.
Marsh has one score over 16 in his last 11 Test innings which he acknowledged put’ question marks’ on his spot. The allrounder’s 320 Ashes runs at 106 seem are a distant memory after averaging 7.5 and 22 in series against Pakistan and South Africa and attracted searing criticism from great’s including Geoff Lawson.
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“We know he’s good enough to be a genuine all-rounder at this level,” captain Tim Paine said after the Aussies revealed their final XI.
“He probably just hasn’t put it together consistently enough, so the opportunity for him to go back and get a Shield game under his belt before the BBL starts is important.
“But going forward we’ve got full faith in him being a Test all-rounder.
“As this series wears on and we get to some places where the wickets might be flatter, and the conditions a little bit warmer and the bowlers are a little bit tired, that all-rounder position becomes really important.”
The selection of Handscomb would indicate Australian concern over its batting line-up by sacrificing the insurance it prefers for pace trio Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
However Paine said Nathan Lyon’s durability and match winning record at Adelaide combined with a fresh attack on a pitch with juice of the speedsters made Handscomb’s inclusion a calculated gamble.
“The quicks are going to have to bowl a bit more, and we’ve got full faith that Nathan Lyon can do the job again … he bowled a mountain of overs in the UAE.
“Our quicks are really fresh, so we think we can cover that.”
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The inclusion of Harris as an opener alongside Victorian teammate Aaron Finch paves the way for Usman Khawaja – Australia’s best batsman in a weakened side missing Steve Smith and David Warner – to return to his preferred role at first drop.
Virat Kohli played a straight bat to the important role Lyon will play in the Australian team.
“Last time we played here we had to be positive against him because he’s such a good bowler, especially in these conditions,” Kohli said.
“He understands the pace of the wicket, the bounce it’s going to provide him and where the fielders should be.
“He hits the bat harder and quicker than any other spinners I’ve faced in Australia. You have to be at your best against guys like Nathan and their bowling attack.
“We’re definitely not going to think too much about anyone but we’re also not going to be tentative against anyone.
“We’re just going to back our game and be confident of our skill set.”
Full team: Australia XI for the first Test: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood