Marsh, Khawaja battle for Test spot

Usman Khawaja (Gallo)
Usman Khawaja (Gallo)

Hobart - Australia has a pleasant selection headache ahead of the next Test against the West Indies with a decision on who to play between in-form Shaun Marsh and returning Usman Khawaja, captain Steve Smith said on Saturday.

Marsh posted his highest Test score of 182 in a record fourth-wicket game-changing partnership of 449 runs with Adam Voges in Australia's crushing innings and 212-run win over the Windies in Hobart on Saturday.

This followed his crucial second innings knock of 49 to help Australia beat New Zealand in the first-ever day-night Test in Adelaide late last month.

Marsh came in as an injury replacement for Khawaja who scored centuries in the first two Tests against the Kiwis before suffering a hamstring problem which forced him out of the last two Tests.

Khawaja was named Saturday in a 13-man squad for the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which offers selectors a vexed decision between the pair.

"I'm sure his (Marsh) form gives selectors a few headaches. I think that's a great thing," Smith said.

"I thought Shaun played beautifully throughout this Test match.

"Adam Voges and him certainly changed the course of the game. It was three for 120 and the game was in the balance and those guys put on a terrific partnership and really set the game up for us."

Smith restated that he believes Marsh's best batting position is at number five, while Khawaja batted at three when he scored 174 in Brisbane and 121 in Perth against the Black Caps.

"He is best suited at number five, he's played some very good cricket at five, he did last summer as well," Smith said.

"And I was really impressed with firstly the way he batted in tough conditions and circumstances (against New Zealand) in Adelaide and backing it up this week with a big 100, he's batting really well."

Khawaja will have to first prove his fitness after recovering from his hamstring issues and is likely to test it out in the Big Bash League T20 series for Sydney Thunder over the next week.

Australia squads:

Second Test in Melbourne - David Warner, Joe Burns, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Usman Khawaja

Third Test starting in Sydney on January 3 - David Warner, Joe Burns, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Usman Khawaja, Steven O'Keefe

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England 0
Pakistan 139/2 (49 ov)
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England 0
Pakistan 139/2 (49 ov)
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