Aussies make call on local hero as Boxing Day Test XI locked in, Pakistan axe keeper


Australia will field an unchanged XI for the second Test against Pakistan at the MCG, with local hero Scott Boland unable to force his way into the team which thrashed the tourists in Perth.

Pat Cummins confirmed the identical line-up on Christmas Day, while Pakistan have named a 12-man squad for the Boxing Day Test, with veteran wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed axed in favour of Mohammad Rizwan and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also left out.

After fielding a four-man pace attack in Perth but needing to replace the injured Khurram Shahzad and Ashraf, the visitors will weigh up whether to recall last spinner standing Sajid Khan, with fellow slow bowlers Abrar Ahmed and Noman Ali ruled out with injury, or play back-up seamers Hassan Ali and Mir Hamza.

Despite a superb first-class record at the MCG and 10 wickets at 13.8 in his two Tests at the venue, including a famous haul of 6/7 in the 2021/22 Ashes, Boland was unable to oust any of star trio Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc for a spot in the Australian XI.

“We’re a huge fan of Scotty, I don’t think that’s a secret,” Cummins said.

“It’s very rare that you’re going to get through seven Test matches with the same bowling line-up – there’s always niggles or things that pop up.

“He’s ready to go if anything happens, so I’m sure he’ll play a part at some point.

“The message is always ‘we love what you’re bringing: unfortunately, you miss out on this one, but don’t change… and stay ready’.”

Australia Boxing Day Test XI

David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Pakistan Boxing Day Test XII

Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood (c), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hassan Ali, Mir Hamza, Aamer Jamal, Sajid Khan.

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