Domain Tests v India
Finch, Marsh out of SCG Test: Reports
Handscomb could join Labuschagne in Australia's middle order after India select three spinners in fourth Test squad
Sam Ferris at the SCG
2 January 2019, 04:39 PM AEST
Opening batsman Aaron Finch is set to be dropped for the fourth Domain Test and Mitch Marsh could also be on the outer for Australia's must-win clash with India, according to reports.
News Limited is reporting Finch has been axed from Australia's Test XI for Queensland batsman Marnus Labuschagne, while Peter Handscomb is set to replace Marsh to combat India's spinners on an SCG pitch that is expected to turn.
There is no official word from the Australian camp, with Test captain Tim Paine saying on match eve the national selectors would make a call on the final XI after inspecting the pitch one last time on Wednesday afternoon.
"There's ongoing discussion the last day or two but we'll have a final look at the wicket and we'll have our last chat then," Paine told media.
"We're not too far away. As I said all along, we'll be looking to pick the best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test and the wicket will play a part in that."
The whole squad trained on Wednesday under the gaze of selector Greg Chappell, who was seen at one point delivering pats on the back to Victorian Handscomb.
As Marsh and Finch left the nets, skipper Paine completed more practice against spin.
And it's the threat of spin that could see Handscomb earn a Test recall after being dropped for the Boxing Day Test.
Regarded as one of the finest players of spin bowling in the country, Handscomb could be included to combat the three spinners in India's 13-man squad – Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
"If we think India were to play two spinners Pete could be a really important player for us," Paine said.
"We know how good a player of spin he is. That's one of the discussions we'll be having today, if we think India will go that way and if they are, are we prepared to bring him back in.
"I'm sure if he does (play), he's an excellent player of spin and contributes a lot to the group in the field and around the team.
"He's a bit like Marnus in that he's a very good package, a good person around our team."
Labuschagne's reported inclusion in the XI is based not only on his batting, but also his ability to bowl part-time leg-spin, from which he captured seven wickets on his maiden Test tour in the UAE last October.
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: India won by 31 runs
Dec 14-18: Australia won by 146 runs
Dec 26-30: India won by 137 runs
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar