Ashton Agar won't unseat Adam Zampa as Australia's first-choice spinner on this Qantas ODI Tour of India, but a turning wicket in Chennai may open the door for him to play his first one-day international in more than two years on Sunday.
Stand-in coach David Saker confirmed this week the Aussies will consider picking both Zampa and Agar in the same XI if conditions suit during this five-match series, although the presence of off-spinning allrounders Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell in the XI means skipper Steve Smith will still have plenty of spin options for choose from should they opt for just one main slow bowler.
The pitch for Sunday's match at Chepauk Stadium looks similar to the surface used in Australia's 50-over practice match this week, when Agar took four wickets bowling from the southern end, which offered plenty of turn.
Despite his strong performance mid-week, Agar knows he'll only play in this series if conditions call for a second spinner.
"Adam is obviously the frontline spinner in the squad," Agar said of Zampa, who's played 21 of 25 ODIs away from home since his debut 18 months ago. "He's bowled really well in these conditions in the IPL and on previous tours.
"No doubt he'll start but if the wicket permits I think there may be a chance (that I'll play)."
Boosting Agar's cause for inclusion is the fact that, like Zampa, his stock delivery turns away from right-handed batsmen, which dominate India's batting line-up.
The withdrawal of left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan this week for family reasons means India's entire top six is likely to be right-handed, a fact Agar says he and Zampa will aim to exploit.
"I'm sure Zamps is the first spinner picked and I know he'll do really well against the right-handers," he said.
"Obviously it's better to spin the ball away because it's harder to play.
"So if I do get a chance we'll try and bowl really well in a partnership together. We've planned well and we're ready to take on their right-handers."
But even if they’re confronted with a raging turner in this series, the Aussies might be reluctant to go too spin-heavy given Head has quickly established himself as a reliable source of overs under Smith's leadership.
So much so that the 23-year-old was the sole spinner in the XI for five of eight one-day internationals at home last summer, when Zampa was overlooked in favour of four frontline quicks.
Playing both Zampa and Agar would likely leave room for just one frontline paceman to go with fast-bowling allrounders James Faulkner and Marcus Stoinis. And with Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson all impressing in the warm-up match this week, a more traditional bowling attack of three quicks and one spinner appears the more likely option.
"We've probably got the option to be able to (play two spinners) but with Head, Maxwell our two other spinners, you're looking at Stoinis and Faulkner being your faster bowlers with Patty (Cummins) and one other," Saker said this week.
"We'll judge that when we have a look at the wicket and see what the line-up of the team will be."
Australia's Qantas Tour of India
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.
India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur
October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi
October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati
October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad