The identity of David Warner’s opening partner for Australia’s first Test against India remains unclear after a drawn tour game in Mumbai, where Matt Renshaw missed a golden chance to impress.
Renshaw and Glenn Maxwell’s selection hopes both took a hit on Sunday, when they were out cheaply in Australia’s second innings against India A.
Frontline spinner Nathan Lyon finished with four wickets but was carted for 57 runs in a miserable six-over burst at Brabourne Stadium, leaving coach Darren Lehmann with plenty to think about.
Mitch Marsh is expected to edge Maxwell in the battle for the vacant No.6 spot on Thursday, when the four-Test series starts in Pune.
Maxwell was out for one after being promoted to first drop in Australia’s second innings, while he didn’t bowl until the 69th over of India A’s innings.
But the question of whether Renshaw, Shaun Marsh or Usman Khawaja will open alongside Warner is more vexed.
Incumbent Renshaw lasted 21 minutes at the crease on Sunday, scoring a total of 21 runs from two knocks in the squad’s only tune-up before the first Test.
Lehmann last month floated the prospect of Renshaw being dropped despite scoring 184 at the SCG in his most recent Test.
Subcontinent specialist Shaun Marsh scored a ton at Brabourne Stadium on Friday to all but confirm his Test recall.
Marsh opened in his past two Tests, notably scoring a ton in Colombo last year as Australia crashed to a 3-0 series loss against Sri Lanka.
Khawaja, the only batsman left out of the XI for the tour game, could also open if selectors want to axe Renshaw but leave Marsh in the middle order.
“For me it’s about preparing and getting ready for the Test myself and then once the team is announced, then we work as a partnership,” Warner said, having logged scores of 25 and 35 in Mumbai.
“When you’re young and come into this environment, you’re going to be thrown a a lot of ideas.
“I just said to him (Renshaw): keep it simple, and you’re going to have learn and learn fast.”
Australia were 4-110 at stumps on the final day of the three-day contest.
Steve O’Keefe was unbeaten on 19, having spent over two hours at the crease and batted at No.4.
O’Keefe grabbed three wickets from his 24 overs, helping clean up the tail with Lyon.
Lyon recorded figures of 4-162 in 28.5 overs as India A scored 171 runs in Sunday’s frenetic morning session.
Shreyas Iyer tormented Australia in an unbeaten knock of 202.
It was No.8 batsman Krishnappa Gowtham, with a first-class batting average of 19.63 prior to his knock of 74, who led the assault on Lyon.
“That’s their mentality, to apply a bit of pressure on our spinners,” Warner said.
“I thought he bowled very well.”
Despite the mauling it would be a major shock if Lyon didn’t play the first Test against India.