Melbourne, Dec 24: Out-of-form veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have been retained in the Australia team to play India in the first cricket test beginning Monday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The 37-year-old Ponting has not scored a century in nearly two years, while Hussey has scored just 83 runs in his last seven test innings.
David Warner, who scored a century on debut in the New Zealand test, will open with Ed Cowan, who will make his test debut replacing the dropped Phil Hughes.
Australia has decided to take just four genuine bowlers into the test, with Shaun Marsh called up to the side ahead of all-rounder Dan Christian.
Marsh, who has been recovering from a back injury, has not played since the first test in Cape Town against South Africa. He scored an unbeaten 99 in a Twenty20 match this week and will bat at No. 3.
Seamer Ben Hilfenhaus replaces 12th man Mitchell Starc.
Captain and selector Michael Clarke said he felt he has the right lineup to get 20 wickets at the MCG.
Clarke admitted it was a gamble to leave out Christian on a flat pitch, especially with fellow allrounder Shane Watson declared unfit as he recovers from hamstring and calf strains.
“I'm confident we've got the best 11 to help us win this first test match,” Clarke said. “I can use Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl a few legspinners.”
The 17-test veteran Hilfenhaus returns from an 11-month break out of the side with a remodeled bowling action, having recovered from knee tendinitis.
“He's a very good new-ball bowler. He can bowl long spells and he's had success against India,” Clarke said.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin, Ed Cowan, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hussey, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, David Warner, Mitchell Starc (12th man).