Before big Test, Aus test spin

The Australians will field three frontline spinners, including the uncapped Ashton Agar, in their second and final warm-up game against India A on Saturday. Speaking at a press conference on the eve of the match, skipper Michael Clarke named the eleven that will play the three-day game at the IC Guru Nanak College ground, ending with the names of Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty and Agar.

Off spinner Lyon is almost certain to feature in the first Test at the MA Chidambaram stadium, but it isn't clear whether he will be Australia's lone specialist spinner or one of two. Of the two left-arm spinners who will bowl to the India A batsmen, ODI regular Doherty has recently earned a long-form recall, having last played a Test match during the 2010-11 Ashes.

The 19-year-old Agar, meanwhile, was originally part of the touring party only as a developmental member, and was scheduled to return home after the full squad arrived in India. But in giving him an opportunity in the tour games, there is a chance that the team management might be looking at a role for him in the Tests. Agar had played against the Board President's XI, taking one wicket in eight overs.

As in that game, the Australians will be without Clarke and opener David Warner, who are recovering from a hamstring strain and a broken thumb respectively. "The reason for skipping this game is that David Warner and I were injured prior to coming here and it's in the best interests of the team and us as individuals that we continue to do our work off the field," Clarke said. "We're going to use these three days to make sure we are prepared for the first day of the Test match."

From the eleven that played the first warm-up game, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, and Jackson Bird will make way for Shane Watson, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Starc and Doherty.

Off the boil

In their first tour game, the Australians had been dismissed for 241, losing seven wickets to off spinner Parvez Rassol. Here, they will face an India A attack featuring Madhya Pradesh's off spinning all rounder Jalaj Saxena and experienced Gujarat left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv. The Australian lineup contains plenty of first-time visitors to India — of the batsmen in their squad, Warner, Ed Cowan, Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Smith, Maxwell, Moises Henriques, Matthew Wade have never played here before — and their ability against spin in the subcontinent is largely untested. Saxena didn't enjoy a particularly good Ranji season with the ball — just 10 wickets in eight matches at 51.00 — while Dhurv did, taking 36 wickets at an average of 25.55, with three five-wicket hauls. Nonetheless, Rassol's spell at the same venue will have spiked the competitive instincts of both bowlers.

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