Leg-spinning all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne has been included in the Australian squad for the series-deciding fourth Test against India, beginning at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on January 3.
Following a 146-run win over India in the second Test in Perth, the home side had named a 13-man squad for the third and the final matches at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and SCG, respectively.
However, Australia have now decided to make one more addition in the form of South African-born Labuschagne as they look to clinch a victory in the crucial Sydney Test in order to avoid losing their first-ever Test series against India at home.
Confirming Labuschagne's inclusion in the squad, skipper Tim Paine said that since the Sydney pitch is expected to provide a lot of spin, they are looking to head into the final Test with their best combination.
“We’ll get up to Sydney and have a look at the conditions.From what we’re hearing, it’ll probably spin quite a bit so once we see that for ourselves, we’ll start to think about the best combination for ourselves to win that Test, cricket.com.au quoted Paine as saying.
With all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and opener Aaron Finch being doubtful to retain their spots for the final Test, Paine also confirmed that there would be "a lot of things on the table" when the team selectors meet in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Finch is also expected to move down the order from the opening spot following some poor performances with the bat in the series so far.
“We think we’ve got the best group of players available to us at the moment and we’ll pick the best combination for that group that we think will win the last Test,” Paine said.
Labuschagne, who made his Test debut against Pakistan in the UAE in October, notched up scores of 52, 4, 47, 21 and 78 in his final three Sheffield Shield matches before the mid-season break.
Meanwhile, the Queenslander also bowled 76 overs for his side in the Shield competition, bagging two wickets while conceding 59 runs.
The Virat Kohli-led side are currently leading the four-match Test series 2-1 following their 137-run win over Australia in the third Test at MCG.
The full squad is as follows:
Australia squad: Tim Paine (captain, 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