Aussies Set To Name Test Squad For India

Who makes the cut?

Aussies Set To Name Test Squad For India

(Image: Getty)

At least half of Australia's squad for next month's tour of India is likely to be attempting to conquer Test cricket's greatest challenge for a second time.

Australia have endured the horrors of homeworkgate and, more recently, Hobart since starting their most recent Test tour of India in 2013.

Both lows led to change, most notably the pre-Ashes sacking of coach Mickey Arthur and recent resignation of chief selector Rod Marsh after a five-Test losing streak.

But for all the upheaval and transition, the squad announced on Sunday will feature more than a few survivors from the calamitous 2013 trip.

Steve Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Jackson Bird and Ashton Agar were part of the touring party that suffered a 4-0 Test series loss in India four years ago.

There is a good chance all nine will be included in a squad set to contain up to 16 members and no shortage of bowling options for Smith, who next month faces arguably the greatest test of his captaincy.

Australia have won just one of their past nine Test series in India, while they have lost their past nines Tests in Asia.

Smith, Warner, Khawaja, Starc and Lyon are all locks. The squad was picked prior to Wade's ODI century on Friday, with the incumbent Test keeper expected to be retained ahead of Peter Nevill.

"I'm not nervous about selection, I'd be nervous if we lost four Test matches in a row but we're winning games and the team's going really well," Wade said.

Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb are automatic selections, having played key roles in Australia's turnaround after a five-Test losing streak.

Cricket Australia has essentially confirmed left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe is in, while Smith suggested Agar was part of selectors' plans earlier this month.

The inclusion of off-spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell, who earned a team-imposed fine and the ire of coach Darren Lehmann when he publicly lamented his place in Victoria's batting order under Wade, has also been mooted.

"He plays spin really well and he bowls right-arm offspin. He'll definitely be in the mix, I would have thought," Wade said of Maxwell.

Maxwell made his Test debut during the 2013 tour of India. Agar wasn't formerly part of that squad but trained with them and played a tour game; later that year making a memorable Ashes Test debut at age 19.

If selectors want another tweaker in the group, legspinner Adam Zampa looms as the man most likely.

"We know the captain is big on having variety in the attack," Lehmann said after the SCG Test.

Shaun Marsh is set to be in Pune when the first Test starts on February 23. Marsh could be opening in place of Renshaw, batting in the middle order or running drinks as the squad's reserve batsman. Travis Head would also have featured in selectors' discussion.

There is likely to be a vacancy at No.6 in the order. Hilton Cartwright was entrusted to bowl only four overs on Test debut at the SCG, suggesting he is not yet the answer to Australia's search for a game-breaking allrounder.

Shaun and Mitch Marsh are the most likely beneficiaries should Cartwright be axed.

- AAP

;