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Opening contenders downplay PM's XI bat-off

Three possible replacements for David Warner are taking on Pakistan but they expect form over the past few years to be more important

Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris both downplayed the notion their tour game against Pakistan is a bat-off to replace David Warner in the Test team after the former state teammates fell short of standout scores.

Harris got to 49 but fell short of a statement knock for the Prime Minister's XI at Manuka Oval on day two of their four-day fixture, as did Bancroft (53) following the pair's 96-run opening stand. A third Test hopeful, Matthew Renshaw, had reached 62 at lunch on Friday after coming at No.3.

Warner's impending retirement following the New Year's Test has put those three openers in the spotlight this week, but Bancroft insisted he had just enjoyed batting with Harris again.

The pair, separated by only four months in age, came through the ranks in Western Australia, opening together in the Sheffield Shield before Harris moved to Victoria in 2016.

Prime Minister’s XI v Pakistan | Day 2

"I don't think I've played a game of cricket with 'Harry' for a long time so it was a bit old-school going out to bat with him yesterday. That was really enjoyable," Bancroft told Fox Cricket before play on Friday.

"I know Renners has been enjoying playing as well, as everyone has been too so far."

Harris and Renshaw have each featured in 14 Tests, while Bancroft played the last of his 10 Tests during the 2019 Ashes. Harris has been considered the frontrunner to take Warner's spot, but Renshaw's versatility saw him play in the middle order for two Tests earlier this year.

Bancroft meanwhile is fresh off a mountain of runs at Sheffield Shield level – 512 at an average of 57 this season, with six tons in his last 16 matches – and grinded his way to a half-century on Thursday before falling lbw to paceman Khurram Shahzad.

"It is what it is – everyone wants an opportunity to play for Australia and everyone's giving 100 per cent," said Bancroft.

"At the end of the day it's not our decision, we're all just trying to do our best. We've all played a lot of cricket with and against each other."

Harris played some classy shots and lofted drives before throwing away his wicket on 49, chipping spinner Abrar Ahmed straight to mid-on.

But the 31-year-old laughed off the idea one innings should define his future with the national side, saying "seven or eight years of good cricket" was far more relevant.

"I've been in this position for the last few years now, so if it comes down to one game, then so be it," he told reporters on Thursday.

"Probably ever since I've moved to Victoria, I've felt I've proved myself enough, especially in domestic cricket.

"Whether or not in international cricket, that's up for debate and other people's opinions ... my last couple of Tests I felt like I was just starting to get going and then things out of my control didn't go my way."

Renshaw put on 86 with Cameron Green (46), who is also trying to bat his way back into national team contention after being usurped in the Test side by Mitchell Marsh.

The allrounder could also play a part in replacing Warner, who is set to retire from the Test arena after the Pakistan series, if any of Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne or Travis Head are moved up the order to open.

Quizzed on his thoughts about a makeshift opener filling the specialist role, Harris pointed to how tough the job can be.

"It's a good debate ... you'd have to ask (the selectors) what they want to do, it's up to them," he said.

"Opening the batting is not the easiest thing in the world but ... they've probably got a bit of time before they have to make that decision."

The PM's XI are not facing the tourists' first-choice bowling outfit, with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim all rested for the tour game.

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

Prime Minister's XI v Pakistan XI: December 6-9, Manuka Oval (10.30am AEDT)

First Test: December 14-18, Perth Stadium (1.20pm AEDT)

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (10.30am AEDT)

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

Australia squad: (first Test only) Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner

Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi