Agar, Khawaja in for first Test | cricket.com.au

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Agar, Khawaja in for first Test

Australia skipper Steve Smith reveals playing XI for Sunday's opening Test in Dhaka

Usman Khawaja will play his first competitive game of cricket in more than seven months after the left-hander was recalled alongside left-arm spinner Ashton Agar to Australia's XI for the first Test on their Qantas Tour of Bangladesh.

Khawaja and Agar, who both spent the Test series in India running drinks, return in place of Shaun Marsh and Stephen O'Keefe respectively after they were left out of the 14-man squad for the Bangladesh tour.

AUSTRALIA XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Matthew Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

Khawaja, who hasn't played a match at any level since January, will slot in at No.3 with captain Steve Smith moving down to No.4, while Agar will partner Nathan Lyon in a two-pronged spin attack.

Batting allrounder Hilton Cartwright, fast bowler Jackson Bird and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson are the three members of the touring party to not feature in the XI.



Despite thriving on home turf in recent summers, Khawaja averages less than 20 on the subcontinent but Smith believes the Queenslander is now better-equipped to take on an expected spin barrage.

"I think he’s a player who has worked very hard on playing against spin," the skipper explained.

"I know he didn’t get an opportunity in India, but he spent a lot of time in the nets working on lots of things and finding different ways to play and I’m sure that’ll hold him in good stead for this series as well.

"He’s worked hard in the nets the last week and hopefully we can see him have a big impact in this series."

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Four years after his incredible international debut knock of 98 from No.11 against England, Agar returns to the side a vastly improved bowler, according to Smith.

"Ashton Agar (is) back into the fold after four years out," he said.

"I think he’s come a long way over the last year particularly.

"He’s been bowling very well in the nets. His lengths have been exceptional so if he can get those right in the game I’m sure he’ll have a big impact for us."

As expected, Matthew Wade has retained his spot after Smith last week poured cold water on suggestions part-time wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb could be handed the gloves to free up an extra spot in the side.

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Glenn Maxwell has retained his spot at No.6 will be on hand for supplementary bowling duties, but Smith expects tweakers Agar and Lyon to take on the bulk of the bowling workload.

"I know I copped a little bit of criticism for not using him (Maxwell) as much in the India series but again, you’ve got two quality spinners and they’re there to do a job," he said.

Despite heavy monsoonal rain ruining Australia's only tour match this week, both sides are expecting spin to play a major role in both Dhaka and Chittagong.

Nathan Lyon, a former member of the Adelaide Oval groundstaff, indicated on Friday the Mirpur pitch expected to be used for the first Test looks worn, while Smith also believes it's a pre-used wicket.

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"It’s pretty dry," Smith said. "I think they had some practice on that wicket a week or so ago, so it’s been used.

"They’ve put some grass clippings down to make it look a bit greener than what it is.

"But it’s pretty dry underneath. I dare say it’ll be pretty slow and take some spin, particularly as the game goes on."

"Sometimes there’s a part-timer that can come on to try and break a partnership but your two spinners have got to do the bulk of the bowling and get the job done."

NSW pair Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will lead the seam attack, while vice-captain David Warner and Matthew Renshaw will take on the new ball.

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mominul Haque.


22-23 August Tour match, washed out


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong