Darren Lehmann hints about Australia's playing eleven for opening Test against India
Head coach Darren Lehmann almost settles in on his team combination for Pune Test.
What’s the story?
Australia have almost locked in on their playing eleven for the first Test against India in Pune. Head coach Darren Lehmann backed both Marsh brothers (Shaun and Mitchell) to rise to the occasion whilst reiterating that the only debate will surround David Warner’s opening partner.
On Australia’s opening dilemma, Lehmann felt, “At the moment you would say he (Matt Renshaw) would play. But we have to sum up what the conditions are like, what the pitches will be like (and) how we'll play. He missed out on (runs) in the tour game. But obviously we put him into this tour game. So it's a tight call between probably him and Usman (Khawaja), I would think.”
“Shaun (Marsh) did very well, the way he batted again and got a hundred so he's in good form. We know that he knows the conditions well. Renshaw and Usman and Warner, they would open. So I'd imagine that (Steven) Smith and (Shaun) Marsh would float between three and four. We're pretty settled on what we want but at end of the day we need to wait until we get there (Pune) and see the wicket.”
During Australia’s recently completed three-day warm-up match against India ‘A’ at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, Renshaw was dismissed for a 41-ball 11 in the first innings by seamer Navdeep Saini and succumbed to all-rounder Hardik Pandya for a 7-ball 10 in the second innings. However, Khawaja’s issues against the turning ball could see Renshaw walking out to open the batting alongside Warner.
The heart of the matter
If Lehmann‘s words are an indication, off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is virtually out of contention for the series opener. The visitors would prefer to bolster their seam department by roping in Mitchell Marsh.
Despite theories floating around a possible debut for leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, Australia are likely to resist the temptation and instead stick to the spin pairing of Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe.
Australia’s likely XI for Pune Test: David Warner, Matthew Renshaw/Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Steve O'Keefe, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood
The first Test of the 4-match series is slated to begin on Thursday at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. With the venue making its Test debut, the all-important 22 yards remain a mystery.
Hoping to arrest the malaise in their recent record in the subcontinent, Australia have trained particularly hard at the Center of Excellence in Brisbane as well as the ICC Academy in Dubai. While their proposed playing eleven appears to have most bases covered, they could be bracing themselves for a gruelling opening Test against an in-form and dominant Indian team.