Oz quicken the pace for 2nd test

2014-12-16 07:40
Mitchell Starc (Gallo)

Cape Town - Josh Hazlewood will make his test debut and Mitchell Starc has been recalled to a new-look attack as Australia bids to exploit the pace and bounce at the Gabba to rattle the India batsmen in the second test.

Australia made three changes to the lineup which took eight wickets in the last session to win the series-opener by 48 runs in Adelaide, with Shaun Marsh coming in to replace injured skipper Michael Clarke, and Hazlewood and Starc replacing fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.

Steve Smith, who was promoted to captain the squad for the remainder of the four-test series, will move up a spot in the batting order to replace Clarke at No. 4.

Clarke needed surgery on the right hamstring he injured in the victory at Adelaide, and veteran swing bowler Harris was sidelined with a quadriceps strain.

The buildup to the series was overshadowed by the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, forcing organizers to reschedule the tests to allow the players to mourn a teammate who died during a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney.

A deadly siege in Sydney on Monday overshadowed the hours leading into the second test.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic event in Sydney last night. It was shocking, and we're all thinking of everyone involved," Smith said at the pre-match news conference in Brisbane. "It had obviously been quite a tough couple of weeks for us all heading into Adelaide, but the boys stood very tall there and got up for the occasion and managed to win that test match.

"We're all in a pretty good place at the moment. It's obviously disappointing with what happened overnight, but I'm sure the boys are going to be ready to go tomorrow."

An Iranian-born gunman burst into a downtown cafe in Australia's largest city on Monday morning, took 17 people hostage, and forced some to hold a flag with an Islamic declaration of faith above the shop window's festive inscription of "Merry Christmas."

The siege ended after midnight with a barrage of gunfire that left two hostages and the gunman dead, four others wounded, and a nation shocked to its core.

Smith was confident the Australian lineup wouldn't be adversely affected by the turmoil of recent weeks.

"We're all excited about coming into the second test and trying to go 2-nil up in the series," he said.

The 23-year-old Hazlewood has taken 10 wickets in six limited-overs internationals for Australia, and seven wickets in four Twenty20 internationals. He'll add support for pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson and left-arm swing bowler Starc. Nathan Lyon, who took seven second-innings wickets and 12 for the match in Adelaide, will again be the sole specialist spinner in the squad.

"This pitch out here is going to suit him perfectly. He's very skillful for his age," Smith said of Hazlewood. "I'm looking forward to seeing him zing a few through and bowl with that extra bit of pace, and get that extra bit of bounce as well.

"After the wickets we've played on recently in test cricket — the Adelaide Oval and the two in the UAE — it's exciting for our fast bowlers to finally have something that's going to have a bit of liveliness to it."

While Australia will have to make do without its experienced captain, India appears set to get its leader back from injury after Mahendra Singh Dhoni attended a news conference on the eve of the second test and spoke confidently about the game.

India has lost four and drawn one of its five previous tests at the Gabba ground in Brisbane, where Australia is unbeaten in test matches since 1988.

But Dhoni commended the character of India's pursuit of victory in Adelaide, where stand-in captain Virat Kohli scored 141 to get the tourists within reach of an upset, and said he didn't have any major concerns about the green-tinged wicket at the Gabba.

"We have won at some of the fastest test wickets — Johannesburg and Perth," he said. "It will be a nice challenge for the youngsters ... they'll learn a lot. Hopefully they'll stand up and perform."


Australia team: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

India: TBA.


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