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Australia vs India: Hosts announce playing XI for the Boxing Day Test

"I'm sure Pete would be upset." - Tim Paine.

Tim Paine
Tim Paine. (Photo by Mark Brake – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

The four-match Border-Gavaskar series looks set to end on a thrilling note. When India defeated Australia in the first Test, it looked like the hosts would have a hard time competing against the visitors in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner. However, Tim Paine & Co. came up with a spirited performance in the second Test to spice up the series.

The hosts, who have never lost a series at home to India, thrashed Virat Kohli & Co. by 146 runs to level the series. All eyes are on now the upcoming third Test in Melbourne, starting December 26. As per the trend, Australia announced their playing XI one day prior to the game. The Tim Paine-led side has made one change to the team that played the first two Tests, replacing out-of-form Peter Handscomb for allrounder Mitchell Marsh.

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“It’s a long series, our bowlers have had a really big workload and we feel we’re going to need Mitch’s bowling at some point,” Paine told reporters. “I’m sure Pete would be upset. I think he’s had conversations with the selectors that there are a few things they would like him to work on and Pete is open to that. Pete at his best is going to score a lot of Test runs and not just his batting, he brings a hell of a lot to our side in terms of his fielding, his experience and just the way he generally goes about his cricket,” he added.

Australia had dropped Marsh for the first two Tests after his poor show with both bat and ball in Australia’s last Test assignment which was against Pakistan in UAE. The all-rounder had managed just 12,0, 13 and 5 with the bat and two wickets with the ball. He has not looked in good form in recent times but the MCG pitch and Handscomb’s form across the matches in Adelaide and Perth compelled Australia to recall the all-rounder.

Handscomb, who was recalled to the Test side for the ongoing series, failed to grab the chances, scoring 34, 14, 7 and 13 across four innings. Meanwhile, the series is currently locked at 1-1.  A loss in the third Test would see the hosts not only concede an unassailable lead but also the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Here is Australia’s XI for the third Test:

Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

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