Australia keep playing XI for first India Test under wraps

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ADELAIDE: Australia cricket captain Tim Paine has decided on his team’s first-Test side to face India. Just don’t expect him to tell anyone until the toss on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.

Paine said on Wednesday 21-year-old all-rounder Cameron Green is medically fit to make his Test debut in the day-night fixture, but won’t divulge whether struggling opener Joe Burns will play.

“We will be keeping that in-house at the moment,” Paine told reporters at the Adelaide Oval.

Star batsman Steve Smith will play despite sustaining back soreness on Tuesday and not batting at training.

“Steve has had a stiff back a number of times of before and you do when you bat at training as much as he does,” Paine said. “But his preparation has been very good. He has batted for the last week since we have been in Adelaide. For him to have a day off might actually be a blessing in disguise.”

Green, meanwhile, has recovered from a concussion and was set to make his Test debut.

“He is pretty good to go,” Paine said. “He obviously trained with us yesterday [Tuesday], reports are he has pulled up really well this morning. All things going well, Cam Green will make his Test debut tomorrow [Thursday].”

But who opens the batting remains clouded, with Burns in a form slump and Marcus Harris summoned as a replacement for David Warner, who has a groin injury.

Paine said promoting Matthew Wade to open was a possibility.

“He is certainly an option… no doubt about that, Paine said. We have got a number of guys who are willing to open the batting… he is willing to put his body on the line for the team,” the Australian captain remarked.

India captain Virat Kohli said on Wednesday that the usual animosity between the sides may not be in the forefront of the four-Test series.

“This year has made people realise a lot of things that might not have been necessary in the past when you hold grudges or have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals is absolutely pointless,” Kohli said. “I don’t think things are going to be as personal as they used to be. The unnecessary stuff is going to get filtered out… [because of] a combination of playing IPL together, Australia changing their approach to an extent, and just the way things have panned out this year.”

Kohli will return to India after the Adelaide Test to be with his wife, Anushka Sharma, who is expecting the couple’s first child in January.

India, meanwhile, have kept faith with young opening batsman Prithvi Shaw for the series opener. The 21-year-old has scored a hundred and two fifties in his four Tests so far, but managed only 62 runs in four innings in warm-up games in Australia.

Shaw’s place looked to be under threat after he got out to some rash shots, while Shubman Gill pushed his claim for a Test debut with scores of 43 and 65 in the final tune-up game in Sydney.

With Shaw keeping his place and partnering regular opener Mayank Agarwal, with Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to follow in the batting order.

“Prithvi has performed at the Test level but he will be playing in Australia for the first time. It’s very exciting to see his progress,” Kohli said.

Wriddhiman Saha will don the wicket-keeping gloves in place of Rishabh Pant, while Ravichandran Ashwin has been chosen as the lone specialist spinner ahead of Ravindra Jadeja to play with the frontline pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.

India come into the match with a strong record at Adelaide Oval, having two wins, two losses and a draw in the last five matches the team has played there.

India won the series here in 2018-19 for their first Test series win in Australia.

Australia have featured in half of the 14 day-night matches played in Test cricket and won all seven by comfortable margins, five of them at the picturesque ground by the River Torrens.

India also won their only day-night Test but the Bangladesh pace attack at Eden Gardens last year probably did not present as much of a threat in the evening sessions as Australia’s will.

Australia’s pace battalion have flourished with the pink ball and India’s fine array of batsmen will have to be at their best if they are to hand their hosts a first test defeat under the lights.

Paine said over the last few days Australia had also enjoyed a decent refresher course to prepare for the match, which will be played in front of a restricted crowd of 21,000.

“We’ve managed to get three nights on the centre wicket at the Adelaide Oval, which I think is going to be a huge advantage to our team,” he said. “The hardest thing about a pink ball Test is you normally get it once a year and so you are learning on the job in conditions that are just so foreign to us.”

Teams:

AUSTRALIA (from): Tim Paine (captain), Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Marcus Harris, Moises Henriques, James Pattinson, Michael Neser.

INDIA: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (Australia) and Paul Reiffel (Australia).

TV umpire: Rod Tucker (Australia).

Match referee: David Boon (Australia).