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Australia name playing XI for South Africa tour match

Sayers, Richardson, and Holland miss out on selection.

Australian team
Australia celebrates with the Ashes Urn in the changeroom. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

After hosting India, the Proteas will be all geared up for their next challenge as they take on the 2017 Ashes winner, Australia. With the 4 Test series set to kick off only next month, the team from ‘Down Under is busy prepping up for their warm-up fixture to get acclimatized to the conditions in the ‘rainbow nation.’ And ahead of their South Africa tour match scheduled to start on February 22, Australia has named their playing XI for the same. The tourists play a three-day warm-up match against South Africa A in Benoni.

Usman Khawaja will open the batting in the absence of David Warner. The Aussie vice-captain will fly to South Africa after leading the side in the  Trans-Tasman T20 international tri-series. Khawaja will partner incumbent Test opener Cameron Bancroft at the top of the order with Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb named at No.3. The move to elevate Khawaja and slot Handscomb at the top was made to avoid upsetting the rest of the batting order that proved dominant against England at home.

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Tim Paine retained as keeper-batsman

Captain Steve Smith is set to bat at No.4 followed by the Marsh brothers and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, while the star-studded bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon will all feature in the first-class fixture at Sahara Willowmoore Park.

Assistant coach David Saker, who has taken charge of the squad while head coach Darren Lehmann has been with the T20 side, believes the team will be able to maintain their form from the Ashes triumph.

Speaking to reporters in Benoni, Saker said, “We just want to go out and win and play really well. It’s really important that we put in a good performance and learn from some of the things we did during the summer.” He added, “It’s our only hit-out so we’ll play as strong a side as we can and get used to the conditions.” Uncapped fast bowlers Chadd Sayers and Jhye Richardson and left-arm spinner Jon Holland are the only squad members to miss out.

The first Test starts on March 1 in Durban.

 Australia XI:

Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

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