Josh Hazlewood ruled out of WTC final vs India, replaced by Michael Neser
Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the 2023 World Test Championship (WTC) final against India due to injury. All-rounder Michael Neser, who has played two Tests, has replaced him in the squad.
Hazlewood has been suffering from an Achilles niggle since February. He picked up the injury after bowling on the damp run-ups during a Test against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in January. The fast bowler missed most of the IPL 2023 as well.
Though he was recovering well, Australia doesn't want to take any risks ahead of a busy Test schedule, including the Ashes in England. Hazlewood is expected to be fit for the first Test which will be played in Birmingham from June 16.
Hazlewood's injury is a significant blow to the Baggy Greens' chances in the WTC final. The right-arm bowler averages 23.58 in England (his best in any country) and has picked up 36 wickets here in just eight Tests. He has 51 wickets to his name against India, including a career-best 6/67 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2017.
Neser, 33, meanwhile, has seven wickets at an average of 16.71 in his two Tests (against England in 2021 and versus West Indies in December 2022). He recently scalped 19 wickets from five matches and even scored a century for Glamorgan in England's Country Championship.
Neser will compete with 34-year-old Scott Boland who only debuted in 2021 but has picked up 28 wickets at an average of 13.42 in his first seven Tests.
One of them will partner captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc with the ball in the summit clash.
Australia's updated squad for WTC Final vs India after Josh Hazlewood's injury
Pat Cummins (C), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (WK), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (VC), Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Standby players: Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw.