Khawaja, Agar named in Australia XI for first Test
Australia captain Steven Smith has confirmed that both Usman Khawaja and Ashton Agar are named in the starting line-up in the first Test against Bangladesh that kicks-off on Sunday in Mirpur.
Both the players failed to get a single game during the series in India earlier this year but now have made it to the XI replacing Shaun Marsh and Steve O'Keefe from the side that played in the fourth Test in Dharamsala.
Earlier, Smith backed Khawaja to have a productive summer and described him as a key player especially during the home series that includes even the Ashes.
The 30-year-old averages less than 20 in sub-continent and struggled to put bat to ball during the series in Sri Lanka but the skipper is confident that he has worked on his flaws.
“I think he’s a player who has worked very hard on playing against spin,” said Smith.
“I know he didn’t get an opportunity in India, but he spent a lot of time in the nets working on lots of things and finding different ways to play and I’m sure that’ll hold him in good stead for this series as well.”
Meanwhile, Agar did not feature for Australia since the 2013 Ashes series in England where in he played two games and scored a 98 run knock with the bat but failed to impress with the ball.
“I think he’s come a long way over the last year particularly,” Smith said of the 23-year-old.
“He’s been bowling very well in the nets. His lengths have been exceptional so if he can get those right in the game I’m sure he’ll have a big impact for us.”
Glenn Maxwell has been retained in the XI after his success in the Indian tour while Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will lead the pace attack.
Nathan Lyon will shoulder the responsibility of being the lead spinner with Agar and part-time option of Maxwell are the other options for Smith as they bid to take an early 1-0 lead in the two match series.
Australia XI against Bangladesh:
Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (captain), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
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