Australia’s selection woes for Indore Test: Warner and Hazlewood out, Head to open with Khawaja, Green and Starc available

Marred with injuries, disastrous batting collapses, questionable selections and have received heavy criticism from the former cricketers for ‘not playing the tour game’, the Pat Cummins-led side are under immense pressure to deliver and they will have to play out of skin to make a comeback in the on going Border-Gavaskar Series.

Australia is already 2-0 down in the four-match series after two heavy defeats, allowing India to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The third test will be played in Indore from March 1.

Australia have suffered twin injuries blow ahead of the third Test with pacer Josh Hazlewood and opener David Warner are ruled out from the remaining two matches. Hazlewood will fly home to Australia due to an ongoing Achilles injury, while Warner has been ruled out of Australia’s remaining two Test matches in India after injuring his elbow and sustaining a concussion. As per the media reports in Australia, the left-arm spinner, Ashton Agar, who was in the original squad, is all set to fly home. Agar fell behind in the pecking order first to off-spinner Todd Murphy and fellow left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann, who was not even in the original squad.

Skipper Pat Cummins has also left Australia’s cricket tour to India for a brief visit to Sydney because of a serious family illness.

On the bright side, all-rounder Cameron Green and left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc regaining their full fitness will be a massive boost. Green’s inclusion will give a much-needed balance to the Australian side.

Indian Express argues why Australia should stick with their strength and play three pacers and two spinners in the Indore Test.

Head to open with Khawaja

With David Warner injured, Travis Head’s surprise promotion to open the batting, for a while tilted the balance of a second Test in Australia’s favour. Head scored a counter-attacking 43 and while he was batting for the first time Indian captain Rohit Sharma was forced to make defensive field placement. However, his cameo didn’t lasted long and he was removed R Ashwin in the first over of Day 3, which triggered the collapse. Now with Warner out and the aggression Head has shown against the spinners will be give him an edge to start open with Usman Khawaja in the third Test.

Green for Renshaw

Australia’s struggling batting line-up could receive a boost with the all-rounder Cameron Green coming back into the playing XI. Green is likely to replace Matt Renshaw, who has had a torrid time in the Nagpur Test and then in the second innings, where he came as a concussion substitute for David Warner.

“(Green) had a little setback batting in Bangalore (on a pre-tour camp) where he had some jarring and there was a fair bit of discomfort in that finger,” said Australian coach Andrew McDonald.

“If he didn’t have that, I think the second Test was realistic. But it probably just delayed it those few days. And we contemplated him as a concussion sub (for Warner) as well.

“We’re better off him loading up for the third Test match and in a good frame of mind.””

Starc or Kuhnemann?

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc is also coming back from injury and could be picked if Australia opts to try to extract some pace from the slow, turning Indian wickets. The question is even if Starc is fit, he could face a third game on the sidelines. It will be a toss-up between Starc and left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann, who made his Test debut in Delhi. If Cameron Green is fit then Australia would be tempted to field three spinners. Green has never played Test cricket in India, while Starc averages 50.14 from four Tests in India.

Kuhnemann did get Virat Kohli as his debut wicket but he struggled with his length and Starc’s prowess with bat also give Australia that extra depth in their lower order, who looked absolutely cluless against Indian spinners.

Injury scare for Murphy

Todd Murphy, who took seven wickets on debut in Nagpur and three in Delhi, had a slight niggle in his side but as per McDonald, he not in danger of missing the next match.

“He’ll have … a good workout two days before,” McDonald said. “He needs a break so you won’t see him doing much work … but it looks good.”

Following his performance in India so far, Murphy has been described as a possible replacement for Nathan Lyon when he retires.

Australia’s predicted XI: Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Todd Murphy and Nathan Lyon

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