Burns to make debut batting sixth for Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Joe Burns will make his test debut batting No. 6 for Australia in the third test against India beginning Friday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia captain Steve Smith confirmed his starting XI on Thursday morning, with Burns and paceman Ryan Harris coming into the side to replace fast bowler Mitchell Starc and injured all-rounder Mitch Marsh.
Burns has been opening the batting for Queensland this season, but Smith said he wanted to maintain continuity in his side, so Burns will take Marsh’s place in the order.
Australia will reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy if it defeats India at the MCG, taking an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the four-test series. The final test begins on Jan. 6 in Sydney.
“Shane Watson (No. 3) is best suited at the top of the order ... Joe will slot in at No. 6,” Smith said. “Mitch has been playing some pretty good cricket ... he was starting to find his feet. Disappointing for him, but Joe Burns gets his opportunity on Boxing Day and it’s going to be a very special week for him.”
On Thursday, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted there was some “unrest” among the team after a dramatic day four of the second test which India lost by four wickets
But on Thursday he launched a stinging attack on reports Virat Kohli and Shikar Dhawan had to be separated by team director Ravi Shastri during the Gabba test.
Dhawan retired hurt after being struck on the arm while batting in the nets prior to day four in Brisbane. Kohli was also struck by a short ball, but batted in place of Dhawan.
Kohli lasted 11 balls, with an Indian newspaper reporting he blamed Dhawan for the dismissal and, in a heated confrontation, accused his teammate of feigning injury.
“These are all stories. Marvel, maybe Warner Bros. or somebody should pick up this and make a nice movie out of it. If somebody from the team has actually told you this, it’d be interesting if you could give us the name,” Dhoni said.
“He doesn’t deserve to be in our dressing room, because he has entirely created something that has not been there at all.”
India was not expected to finalize its team until just before the toss on Friday. Dhoni would not comment on any changes to the XI that lost in Brisbane, but suggested swing specialist Bhuvneshwar Kumar would not be match fit for Friday.
Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Ryan Harris.
India: to be named.