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Shaun Marsh preferred over Khawaja in tour match

Usman Khawaja has had a disappointing record in Asia so far, scoring 115 runs in four Tests, which were all played in Sri Lanka AFP

Usman Khawaja could be facing the axe from Australia's team for the first Test against India, after being left out of the XI for the tour match against India A in Mumbai.

Shaun Marsh was preferred for the three-day game, which is Australia's only warm-up match before the first Test in Pune. Although the tour-match XI will not completely correspond to Australia's Test XI - Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are both being rested - the absence of Khawaja is a more significant pointer.

The probable inclusion of an allrounder in Australia's XI means only five specialist batting positions will likely be available: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steven Smith, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh were all named in the tour match XI.

Khawaja's disappointing record in Asian conditions could leave him on the outer. In four Tests in Asia - all in Sri Lanka - he has scored 115 runs at 19.16, and he was dropped mid-tour during Australia's series in Sri Lanka last year. His wider first-class record in Asia - including tour games and Australia A matches - is 389 runs at 32.41. In his past 14 first-class innings in Asia, he has not passed 50.

Marsh, by comparison, has played three Tests in Asia - like Khawaja, all in Sri Lanka - but has made two centuries and averages 78.60 in those games. Unlike Khawaja, who has played Australia A first-class matches in India, Marsh is yet to make any first-class appearance in India, and the selectors hope that his ability against spin might help strengthen Australia's batting order in this series.

However, despite his struggles in Asia, Khawaja is coming off a productive home summer, in which he scored 581 runs at 58.10 from six Tests against South Africa and Pakistan. Last month, when the Test squad for this tour was announced, national selector Trevor Hohns was asked whether Khawaja's retention for the first Test would depend on his form in the training camp in Dubai, and the tour game.

"We see Usman as one of our best five or six batsmen," Hohns said at the time. "He's included because of that. We would expect Usman to do everything he possibly can to improve his play. He wasn't great in Sri Lanka - and once again, he knows that and understands that. We want to see him improve his play in those conditions against spin bowling. He's one of our best batsmen, so there's no reason why he can't do the job."

Marsh began the home summer as Warner's opening partner, but after scoring 63 and 15 in the first Test against South Africa in Perth, he missed the remainder of the Tests due to injury. In his previous two Tests - against West Indies in Hobart in December 2015, and against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2016 - Marsh had scored centuries.

Writing for ESPNcricinfo this week, former Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said if he was choosing the XI for the first Test in Pune, he would pick Marsh ahead of Khawaja.

Australia XI for tour game David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steven Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.