Australia drop Starc, Christian for Boxing day Test

Melbourne : Australia have left out young fast bowler Mitchell Starc and all-rounder Dan Christian from the playing 11 for the first cricket Test against India, starting Monday.

Swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus returns to the side after being dumped in the wake of Australia’s disastrous Ashes series last summer. He replaces Starc whose four wickets in the two Tests against New Zealand were not good enough to stay in the side.

Tasmanian Hilfenhaus, who has played 17 Tests, has been in impressive form this season after a knee tendinitis forced him to remodel his bowling action. He has taken 22 wickets at an average of 30 in domestic cricket this season.

Skipper Michael Clarke, who is also a selector now, said Saturday after the announcement of the playing 11 that Hilfenhaus was good new ball bowler who could bowl long spells. More importantly, he had success against India in the past.

Shaun Marsh is back after proving his fitness playing for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League (BBL) Thursday and he will bat one drop.

Clarke said he had the ammunition to claim 20 wickets in the Boxing Day Test, though he only had four mainline bowlers.

Clarke recognised the fact that it was dicey to leave out Christian on a flat Melbourne pitch. Christian was to come in for all-rounder Shane Watson who is still to recover from hamstring and calf strains.

Clarke felt he had the right team to win the first Test, saying that Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and he himself could turn their arm over for a few overs and that opening batsman David Warner could bowl his legspin.

The team: 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).

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