Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has said that rookie opener Marcus Harris, who was named in Australia’s 14-member squad for the first two Tests against India, should feature in the playing XI of the opening Test, starting on December 6 at The Adelaide Oval.
“He (Harris) is the in-form player of the competition and has an outstanding record over the last two years. I would have liked to have got (Matt) Renshaw in there, but he hasn’t scored enough runs,” Lehmann told Macquarie Sports Radio.
Usman Khawaja, who underwent an operation after injuring his knee against Pakistan in October, was also named in the team which will be led by Tim Paine. Shaun Marsh, who has been in terrific form with the bat in first-class cricket, will also bring some welcome experience to the top order while his all-rounder brother Mitch is one of the team’s vice-captains.
Middle-order batsman Travis Head also retained his place in the squad while Peter Handscomb, who was dropped for the Pakistan Test series last month, returned for another chance to cement his spot in the side.
Talking about Australia’s possible strategy, Lehmann said Handscomb is his best bet to combat the threat of India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
“If Ashwin plays, then I am playing (Peter) Handscomb as he helps negate Ashwin,” Lehmann said.
As expected, Lehmann opted for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood as three pacers while Nathan Lyon was his only spinner in the playing XI.
“It’s the toughest job selecting the first Test of the summer but whoever we pick we have to back 100 percent,” he concluded.
Australia squad for first two Tests vs India:
Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Chris Tremain, Peter Siddle.