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India vs Australia: Under-fire Australia Wait Before Announcing Their Final XI for SCG

Cricketnext Staff | January 2, 2019, 12:10 PM IST

Australia have opted to wait before naming their final XI for the fourth and final Test at Sydney Cricket Ground with captain Tim Paine stating that a final look at the surface will decide how the team combination pans out.

"It's just team balance really," Paine said on the eve of the SCG Test that Australia need to win to level the series. "There's ongoing discussion the last day or two but we'll have a final look at the wicket (this afternoon) and we'll have our last chat then.

"We're not too far away. As I said all along, we'll be looking to pick the best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test and the wicket will play a part in that."

Having lost the third Test at MCG by 137 runs, Australia are behind the eight-ball as they face the prospect of conceding a series to India on home soil for the very first time. They have wrung in changes for SCG having called up leg-spinning all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne into the squad.

With the SCG surface likely to take spin as the Test match progresses there is also a chance for Peter Handscomb to come into the fray after being given the axe in Melbourne with Australia wary of the visitors opting for two spinners.

"If we think India were to play two spinners Pete (Handscomb) could be a really important player for us," Paine said. "We know how good a player of spin he is. That's one of the discussions we'll be having today, if we think India will go that way and if they are, are we prepared to bring him back in.

"I'm sure if he does (play), he's an excellent player of spin and contributes a lot to the group in the field and around the team. He's a bit like Marnus in that he's a very good package, a good person around our team."

Another key point of discussion within the Australian unit has been the form and position of Aaron Finch. The hard-hitting batsman has made quite a name for himself in white-ball cricket but has been found out quite often when it comes to the longest form of the game with the swinging red ball bringing about his undoing.

There are talks about him slotting in the middle-order, a position he plays for Victoria and Surrey, with Usman Khawaja taking up the opener's role. Paine said that Khawaja's record as an opener and his willingness to slot in anywhere in the batting order will make him a prime contender for the opening position come Sydney.

"Uzzie's (Usman Khawaja) opening record in Test cricket is very good," Paine said. "He's been on record a few times saying he's not too fussed where he bats.

"If that's the way we go, Usman will go out and give his all as he always does. I think the way he's handled the last month or so has been exemplary, it's a real credit to him."

Australia Squad: Tim Paine(c), Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Siddle, Marnus Labuschagne

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2 New Zealand 3241 112
3 South Africa 3177 102
4 England 4593 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7364 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
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