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Ricky Ponting Names His Australia Playing XI For First Test

Cricketnext Staff |November 27, 2018, 7:17 AM IST
Ricky Ponting Names His Australia Playing XI For First Test

Ricky Ponting has urged Australian team management to go with the opening combination of Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris and push Usman Khawaja to No. 3 spot for the first Test against India. The limited overs skipper is set to bat down the order for his state Victoria in their next Sheffield Shield encounter but Ponting wants him to open the innings and get proper practice ahead of the Adelaide Test, starting December 6.

Finch made his Test debut against Pakistan and managed 181 runs at 45.25 but couldn't save his team from suffering a 0-1 defeat in the two-match series.

"Victoria don't want to break up their opening partnership – I think they should for Aaron Finch's benefit," Ponting told "I think they should let him open for one game and slide Travis Dean down. Just to give him red ball (practice) opening the batting before he goes into the Test match.

"If the coach asked Aaron Finch where he'd rather bat, I'm sure he'd say he'd want to open. Finch is a bit of an anomaly really that the last few years he's done most of his batting for Victoria in the middle order. Then because they go to the UAE where conditions probably weren't going to be that new-ball friendly they gave him the chance to open. So he deserves to stay in the team and open.

"He's had a lot of success around the world opening the batting in T20s and one day internationals – if he can go in with a similar mindset and not worry too much about opening the batting in a Test match in Australia against the red ball, I'm sure he'll have some success."

Ponting also believes Australia should hand a Test debut to Harris, who had amassed 437 runs at 87 in four Shield games this season.

"I remember when he first came into the WA (Western Australia) side, speaking to Justin Langer about him and he thought he was potentially an Australian player in the making," Ponting explained.

"Things didn't really work out for him in WA (but) he decides to move to Victoria and his last few seasons have been very good. No batsmen have really dominated domestic Sheffield Shield cricket over the last few years but if you look at the numbers and the way he's performed this year, he deserves his chance to be opening the batting."

Ponting has always been pretty vocal about how much he enjoys watching Khawaja bat and he thinks Queenslander's brilliant knock of 141 in UAE will give him the confidence of achieving new heights in the coming years.

"I've been a huge fan of Khawaja's for a long time, probably outspokenly so, a lot of people have been quite critical of him over the years," Ponting said.

"Sometimes there's guys you just have to stick with, you just have to pick them and give them a go. I know he had a bad run in the subcontinent but so did I, for the first part of my career.

"Suddenly you start to work it out and like he showed in the UAE, he played one of the all-time great rear-guard innings an Australian has ever played. Let's hope it's the making of him, not just for this summer but for the next five or so years."

Despite having a horrid time in UAE, Ponting has stuck with the Marsh brothers, with Travis Head and skipper Tim Paine being the other middle-order batsmen. In the bowling department, Ponting went with obvious options - Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.

Four of the top five are left-handers and when asked about the R Ashwin-threat, Ponting said Australia shouldn't be too concerned and should go with the best options they have.

"They've just got to pick their best batting line-up, simple as that. Don't worry if they're all left-handed or if they're all right-handed. They've got to find guys who are good consistent run-scorers, not just now, but there's an Ashes series not far away and they need to show some faith in who they believe are the right people."

Ponting's XI for the first Test: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (c/wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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