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Test Cricket: Predicting how will the Australian National Cricket Team choose their starting XI for the 4th Test v India in Sydney

After Australia lost the 3rd Test & failing to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, they need to look at changes in time for Thursday.

Preferably, dropping one or two players will do to help move forward, so the replacements get another lifeline & prove that they can play for Australia.

And in the benefit of the whole squad, Australia can entirely focus towards winning the 4th Test & retain the series win 2-2.

Bowlers

Yes, the bowlers remain okay having each took a few wickets a few days back bar one all-rounder.

That all-rounder who should head towards the chopping block will be mentioned later in this post.

They continued to target up the stumps straight or change the pace such as the short & slow ball.

So Australia wouldn’t worry too much about that department.

Plus the pitch they’re about to test at the Sydney Cricket Ground will feature heavily on spin.

These are the reasons why Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will stay on as their main quicks.

The same goes to Nathan Lyon as their lone frontline spinner as another returning player will back him up later in this 4th test.

Batting

Youth

As always, this area they’ve failed isn’t a lot positive to say here & there.

Though, some batsmen who demonstrated plenty of promise will get another opportunity.

You’re looking at the likes of Marcus Harris & Travis Head.

These youngsters had worked hard scoring plenty of runs in first-class cricket before they backed a Test 50 or 2 on home soil.

They’re able to bat just as what the Australian public wanted to see by playing with a straight bat.

When they remained patient, the use of blocking the good balls towards the stumps helped them stay in the crease much longer.

In return, they cashed in the full balls with runs on the board and even on a faster pace like what the Indian Top 7 have done over the past five days.

Experienced

Not only the youth has their fair share of runs.

But also the experienced bunch of batsmen has demonstrated enough to maintain their shape.

You’re looking at the likes of Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh & Tim Paine.

All of these three too remained patient where they’re active with their shot selection.

There’s no need to go hard and take big shots as these three set the Test Match standard pretty well.

Plus the head position, hand-eye coordination & moving with the feet does help as long as the bat face remained fully open.

However, just a little tip to improve next time.

When they defend, just put the bat and pad close together, so they don’t lose their balance by jumping or reaching out where to hit the ball.

The same applies to Harris & Head just a little earlier on this post.

Who will be the two new men in this squad?

Part 1

Peter Handscomb will return this time around.

He responded to his fate brilliantly last week when he scored 70 for the Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers on this Sydney pitch.

Handscomb’s great at batting on the back foot which he’s a master of executing the short balls against fast bowling.

Plus he’s terrific against the spinners by going deep and whacking it away whether it’s off a cross or straight bat.

Hence, Handscomb has the all the shot selection tools to rotate the strike and get the job done.

You see, Handscomb can take his stance whatever he likes as long as it’s comfortable for him if he:

  • Doesn’t shake his head
  • Does dance around with the feet
  • Keep the ball come to him so he can whack closer to the ball to provide full power

And that is one of the reasons why Captain Tim Paine & Head Coach Justin Langer didn’t permanently leave him out.

Though, when he comes back, I’d like to see him batting a lot more with the straight bat plus improve his defending.

Otherwise, it’ll just be the same old Handscomb whose own technique may not have helped him pass the exam in Test Cricket.

Part 2

Marnus Labuschagne will rejoin alongside Peter Handscomb.

He can provide the all-rounder option of batting at No.6 and bowling leg-spin as the primary backup to Nathan Lyon.

Yes, Labuschagne may not have reached his 50 yet.

But he has demonstrated plenty of batting displays as his highest score is 43 during the 3rd Innings of the 2nd Test v Pakistan in October.

As long as his batting keeps it simple and plays with the straight bat by blocking 100s of balls & throwing bad balls away, then he’ll do well.

Plus his leg-spin skills too helped when he’s able to bowl straighter and target the off-stump.

That’s where Labuschagne’s able to collect seven wickets off five catches & two LBWs.

We’ll see if he can clinch his maiden Test 50 like Travis Head & Marcus Harris plus take a few wickets including the first scalp off the stumps.

Final 4th Test Starting XI

  1. Marcus Harris
  2. Usman Khawaja
  3. Shaun Marsh
  4. Peter Handscomb
  5. Travis Head
  6. Marnus Labuschagne
  7. Tim Paine, Wicket Keeper/Captain
  8. Pat Cummins
  9. Mitchell Starc
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Josh Hazlewood, Vice-Captain

Conclusion Part 1

There may not have a lot of chopping and changing.

But at least there’s plenty of shuffling around in the Australian Test Team for the 4th Test.

I wouldn’t mind Usman Khawaja opening the batting.

He doesn’t care what number he bats or the stats Khawaja’s reading as long as it remains consistent.

Khawaja can maintain that level of simplicity in the middle and bat for long periods having done a lot of times at No.3.

Plus he does have the patience against the new ball and has effective use of shot selection off a straight bat.

He’s demonstrated that once before when he scored a century v Pakistan at the UAE in the 1st Test two months ago.

Marcus Harris will keep his same approach as last time as he’ll look to secure at least a half-ton.

Shaun Marsh moves up to three as he’s still a decent top-order batsman with plenty of experience in the bag.

At No.4, he has scored okay closer towards the 50 run mark.

This time, S. Marsh will have a bit more responsibility at first-drop and remain consistent in Khawaja’s old role.

Peter Handscomb will slot in at four ahead of Travis Head who stays in the ideal No.5 position.

Conclusion Part 2

Marnus Labuschagne’s just a straight all-rounder replacement for Mitchell Marsh.

Though, Labuschagne will provide the 2nd spinning option since this pitch will turn a lot.

Tim Paine continues to lead the side and keep wicket at No.7.

Australia’s start new proper quick all-rounder Pat Cummins comes in at No.8.

The Australian cricketing public would like to see his continued prowess both bat and ball.

Mitchell Starc comes after Cummins at No.9 followed by Nathan Lyon before Josh Hazlewood completes Australia’s planned starting XI v India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

For now, they should keep it simple.

They should keep bowling straight and targeting the three stumps no matter how they pitch up.

Regarding the batsmen, score runs off a flat bat or down the ground & defend properly.

That way you can keep your wicket for hours & even the next day to build a significant partnership that the opposition couldn’t chase.

Should Australia meet all of its targets, that’s their bucket list to retain this series 2-2.

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