SCG inspection to decide Australia side – Paine

By Sports Desk January 01, 2019

Captain Tim Paine said a final inspection of the SCG pitch will decide Australia's plans for the fourth Test as the hosts look to deny India a series victory.

Australia – trailing 2-1 in the series after India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with victory in Melbourne – opted against finalising their XI for the final Test in Sydney, starting Thursday, amid doubts over opener Aaron Finch and all-rounder Mitch Marsh.

Finch – who could drop down the order – is under pressure at the top of the order, having managed just 97 runs in six innings, with a top score of 50 in Perth.

Marnus Labuschagne was also added to the squad following Australia's 137-run defeat to India in the Boxing Day Test last week.

"It's just team balance really," Paine told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday, with his side desperate to prevent Virat Kohli's men from becoming the first India team to win in a Test series in Australia.

"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."

Peter Handscomb could also return to the side, having been dropped for Marsh for the MCG clash against India.

Marsh failed to capitalise on his return, posting scores of just nine and 10 as Australia were outclassed in Melbourne.

"If we think India were to play two spinners Pete 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."

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