Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne December 24, 2011

Hilfenhaus to play, Christian left out


Australia have decided against using the allrounder Daniel Christian in the Boxing Day Test, while the left-armer Mitchell Starc has also missed out from the 13-man squad. The captain Michael Clarke announced the starting line-up on Saturday, two days before the game, with Ben Hilfenhaus to play his first Test since the Ashes last summer.

Shaun Marsh was named at No.3 after making an impressive return from his back injury in Thursday night's Big Bash League match, while the opener Ed Cowan will make his debut. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, the two under-pressure senior members of the middle order, have retained their positions.

The decision to go in with only four frontline bowlers could be viewed as a gamble against a strong batting line-up including Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman. However, Clarke said he would call on his batsmen to provide some overs if required.

"I'm confident we've got the best XI to win this Test match in these conditions," Clarke said. "I can use Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl a few legspinners. I feel we've got the right XI to give ourselves a chance of winning this Test match.

"DC [Christian] offers a lot with both bat and ball but unfortunately for him right now we can't fit him into the XI."

Hilfenhaus won his recall in part due to his ability to bowl long spells, which without an allrounder will become more important.

"I think it plays a part," Clarke said. "His control, he's a very good new ball bowler. He can bowl long spells. He's had success against India as well. There's a few reasons we decided to go with Hilfy."

While the bowling gains experience with the return of Hilfenhaus, the batting line-up will also welcome back an important man with Marsh to play his first Test since the Cape Town debacle last month. Clarke said he was confident Marsh was fit to play despite his serious back problems over the past six weeks.

"His back is fine," he said. "He's taken it easy yesterday and today to make sure he's fully recovered and ready to go come Boxing Day. I'd imagine you'll see Shaun out here tomorrow facing some bowlers or at least having some throwdowns. He's 100% ready to go."

Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Ed Cowan, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Ricky Ponting, 5 Michael Clarke (capt), 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Peter Siddle, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Satish on December 25, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    @RandyOZ : How did it count? It is one more selfish innings in cricket where a player scored selfish runs inspite when team was losing.. We all saw how well he was farming the strike the tail..

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    mayanviljoin nice comments we have some foolish indians supporters of vinay kumar abhimanyu mithun and irfan pathan

  • Mashuq on December 25, 2011, 10:29 GMT

    I feel I must reply to you, Mayan Viljoen. You write "Here in my country you get a couple of South Africans actually supporting the Ausies. Can you believe such a thing??" I am a South African who supports the Aussies. Why? Well I was obliged to sit in a cage at the Newlands cricket ground to watch "my" country play the Kiwis at my first test 50 years ago! Like my hero the late Basil d'Oliveira, I had to go to England to achieve opportunities in sport or academia (my profession). I consider myself a citizen of the world. However I have spent most of my life in the RSA contributing to the development of people with whom I share little but my "nationality"! Of the "the new SA", the less said the better. So, years ago, I pledged loyalty to the country who gave birth to the greatest batsman who has ever lived (Yes, you've guessed it, like the Tendulkar accolytes on this site, my heritage is from the sub-continent). Imho, cricket is transnational, although it's an ersatz religion for me.

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2011, 9:36 GMT

    chris-p as for england they have been smashed 5 nil in india and india drew in 2002 and won in 2007 in enmgland also won in natwest wat did england did in india humiliation in england scorline is 1-1but in india england not won last 25 years and inone day lolzzzzzzzzz last18 17 won by india lolzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ho hoho

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    tast match fan dhoni still have higher average than so called opeaner watson in test 38 more than hadden scored two fifties in eng wat did brad haddin did in ashes and about sachin he scored 2 hundreds in sa year against steyn wat did ponting did lolzz and aussie all out for 47 same newzealand was clean sweep by india in nz 2009 and in india 2010 australia lol loose in own turfaginst them ho hoho

  • Randolph on December 25, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    @Pramesh Paudel, Dave Warner is already better than Tendulkar; he scores when it counts!!

  • Alex on December 25, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    As someone said , India has long tail in overseas tour. If sehwag and dravid fails in same inning , india won't even score 200. They are the one give confidence and motivation to all other players. Especially sehwag whack all bowlers it makes easy for every following batsman. Sachin should thank sehwag for his most centuries... without sehwag india is nothing in overseas tours. Actually trick is indian middle order can not face new balls. Even if someone else play sehwag spot , india can score better but they will not have the advantage sehwag gives to the team often. if india even have decent bowling , india would have won more test with sehwag around. Anyway it will be 2-1 or 2-0 for aussies

  • Dummy4 on December 25, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Mayan Viljoen, there are lot of 'wannabe's (Aussie fans) - pseudo/fake Aussie fans in India...they are very much similar to "Glory Hunters" - aka Manu fans :P ;)....They abuse Sachin & Indian players & Ricky Ponting is their GOD...

  • Roo on December 25, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    @Dinker Rkn... Predictions... lol - anything could happen...But without weather delays then 2-1 either way but I'm obviously favoring Australia... Yes, the bowlers fitness will be a key to both teams success... Zaheer & Ishant... For Oz it will be to keeping Pattinson going, with Harris & Watson returning in 2nd or 3rd Test, Cummins maybe play in 4th Test... With back to back Tests this is going to be tough on the bowlers by the 3rd Test...

  • Roo on December 25, 2011, 4:42 GMT

    @dunger.bob :- Yes agree & a tough time for selectors - lets hope they do retire gracefully... @Chris_P :- Its been sad to see so many talented bowlers out at present... @Shaunak Sharma :- Agree & well said... @allblue :- Aussie top 3 are 25, 29, 28 y.o. with lots of cricketing experience... @Nathan30 :- Point well made - without playing he cannot be critised - would have done a better job than Starc against NZ... @Beertjie :- Again, well written - Pontings form has deteriated over the last 4 years & surely it must be time to freshen up the team...

  • No featured comments at the moment.