Nathan Lyon and Mitch Marsh during the Christmas Eve training session. Picture: Getty
Nathan Lyon and Mitch Marsh during the Christmas Eve training session. Picture: Getty

Handscomb dropped for Boxing Day Test

Victorian Peter Handscomb has had his Boxing Day dream shattered after he was left out of the Australian Test team, replaced by all-rounder Mitch Marsh.

Australian captain Tim Paine confirmed a mix of poor form, plus the need for an extra bowler, paved the way for Marsh to make his return in the third Test against India at the MCG.

"It's a long series, our bowlers have had a really big workload, and we feel we are going to need Mitch's bowling at some point," Paine said.

"Pete would be upset, but he has had a conversation with selectors that there is a few things they would like him to work on, and I think Pete is open to that.

"He's got thing to improve on, like we all do.

"We think Mitch can come in and do a good job with the bat, and give some support to our bowlers. It's a win-win.

"He's going to be around the group this week, and going to Sydney, where it spins, Pete comes back in to consideration

"We know Pete at his best will score a lot of Test runs."

Before the Handscomb omission the third Test took a slight turn Australia's way after confirmation star Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin would not be ready to play at the MCG.

And the tourists have also dropped both battling openers with Mayank Argawal set to make his Test debut while Rohit Sharma has been recalled as India looks to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Ravidra Jadeja, who coach Ravi Shastri said was only 80 per cent fit earlier this week, will do the spinning duties with paceman Umesh Yadav also dropped.

Ashwin has been battling an abdominal injury and missed the second Test in Perth, with most pundits panning the tourists decision not to play a frontline spinner as Australia levelled the series 1-1.


Mitch Marsh will play in the Boxing Day Test.
Mitch Marsh will play in the Boxing Day Test.


Indian captain Virat Kohli was hopeful, after looking at the MCG wicket on Christmas Day, that it would provide something for the bowlers, and hopefully a result.

"Last time the pitch played a big part in not having a result. It has much more grass than it had last time. I hope that it's a lively pitch, that it does as much as it did in the first two games. As a side you are always in for a result that way," he said.

"The surface looked pretty dry underneath, there is a good coverage of grass which should keep the surface in tact. We will have to figure out on the field how the pitch plays and figure out our plans accordingly. I think it should have enough for the bowlers to be interested on all days. Hopefully it's a much more lively wicket than the last time we played here."

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