David Warner and Will Pucovski have returned to the Australia squad for the last two Tests against India even as out-of-form opening batsman Joe Burns has been dropped. Warner’s inclusion is a boost for Australia who lost the second Test by eight wickets with their batsmen not able to cross 200 across two innings. Fast bowler Sean Abbott will also join the squad after recovering from a calf strain. Burns, who returned scores of 8, 51 not out, 0 and 4 in the first two Tests, could be swapped with Warner at the top of the order even as the left-hander continues his recovery from the groin injury he sustained last month.
Pucovski, who was in line to make his Test debut in the first Test in Adelaide, suffered a concussion while batting in a warm-up game. The concussion ruled Pucovski out of the first two Tests.
Australia captain Tim Paine on Tuesday was optimistic about Warner’s return to the squad, saying the opening bat looked “very good for the third Test.”
“Pucovski is not far away to return to play. He is pretty close to return,” Paine had said the post-match press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.
However, Pucovski will still be required to clear further tests before he is cleared for a possible debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return to play protocols and an independent assessment.”
On Warner’s return, Hohns said: “David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match.”
Warner’s return will replenish Australia’s batting resources as they head into the New Year’s Test in Sydney with the series level at 1-1 and their batting line-up under scrutiny.
Steven Smith has been far from his best in the series, managing scores of 1, 1*, 0 and 8 in the series.
Marnus Labuschagne has got starts – 47, 6, 48 and 28 – but has failed to convert them into big scores.
Sean Abbott’s addition gives Australia another bowling option should any of their mainstays – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – be injured.
Nathan Lyon remains the specialist spinner while captain Paine is likely to don the wicket-keeping gloves.
The third Test begins on January 7 and will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia squad for last two Tests: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
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