Sydney: Australia, already without David Warner, face major selection problems heading into the first Test against India after incumbent opener Joe Burns flopped again Sunday in the final warm-up game and Marcus Harris fared little better.
Burns managed just one at the Sydney Cricket Ground before being trapped lbw by India’s dangerous Mohammed Shami, leaving him with only 62 runs from nine first-class knocks this summer.
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He has scored only 4, 0, 0 and 1 in his four innings for Australia A against India A, and selectors have plenty to ponder ahead of the day-night Test which begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
“It’s a sad sight seeing a bloke really struggling to just find any sort of form,” former captain Allan Border said on Fox Sports, adding that Burns, who has scored four centuries in his 21 Tests, should not be picked.
World-class opener Warner will miss the Test with a groin tear and his likely replacement, rookie Will Pucovski, was ruled out by concussion after being struck on the helmet by a bouncer in a warm-up match last week.
Harris, who hasn’t played a Test since being dropped after the Ashes in England last year, was drafted in as Pucovski’s replacement.
But he scored only five on Sunday, also falling to Shami, to go with his first innings 26, although he has been in excellent touch in the Sheffield Shield this season.
If Burns is axed, Marnus Labuschagne could be elevated to opener from his usual number three, or Matthew Wade bumped up the order.
That could potentially open the door for red-hot young all-rounder Cameron Green, although questions remain over his fitness after he too suffered a concussion last week when hit in the head by a powerful straight drive while bowling.
India A made 194 in their first innings of the pink-ball warm-up match in Sydney, before Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini skittled Australia A for 108.
The Indians fared much better in their second innings, gaining valuable day-night batting practice before declaring on 386 for four.
Shubman Gill hit 65 to state his case to open in Adelaide with Mayank Agarwal, who compiled 61, before Hanuma Vihari (104 not out) and Rishabh Pant (103 not out) tore into the second-string Australian attack.