Australia captain Tim Paine said a final look at the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground was needed before a final XI for the fourth Domain Test could be picked.
While reports are circulating that, Opening batsman Aaron Finch is set to be dropped for the fourth Domain Test and Mitch Marsh could also be on the outer for Australia’s must-win clash with India, according to reports.
News Limited is reporting Finch has been axed from Australia’s Test XI for Queensland batsman Marnus Labuschagne, while Peter Handscomb is set to replace Marsh to combat India’s spinners on an SCG pitch that is expected to turn.
There is no official word from the Australian camp, with Test captain Tim Paine saying on match eve the national selectors would make a call on the final XI after inspecting the pitch one last time on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier, Queensland leg-spinning batsman Marnus Labuschagne was parachuted into the squad following the third Test defeat in Melbourne and Paine said he remained an option to come into the Test XI but the conditions and balance of the side still needed to be weighed up.
“It’s just team balance really,” Paine told reporters today on the eve of the fourth and final Test that Australia need to win to level the series.
“There’s ongoing discussion the last day or two but we’ll have a final look at the wicket (this afternoon) and we’ll have our last chat then.
“We’re not too far away. As I said all along, we’ll be looking to pick the best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test and the wicket will play a part in that.”
Paine said Australia was looking to strike a balance between picking an XI that would contend to win the fourth Test and batting players in the positions they would fill in future series, once the bans for Steve Smith and David Warner had expired.
That could mean a move down the order for Aaron Finch if he were to keep his place in the XI, which would pave the way for Usman Khawaja to open the batting for Australia.
“Uzzie’s opening record in Test cricket is very good,” Paine said. “He’s been on record a few times saying he’s not too fussed where he bats.
“If that’s the way we go, Usman will go out and give his all as he always does. I think the way he’s handled the last month or so has been exemplary, it’s a real credit to him.”
According to reports, The whole squad trained on Wednesday under the gaze of selector Greg Chappell, who was seen at one point delivering pats on the back to Victorian Handscomb.
As Marsh and Finch left the nets, skipper Paine completed more practice against spin.
And it’s the threat of spin that could see Handscomb earn a Test recall after being dropped for the Boxing Day Test.