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Warner stand-ins fail with bat against India in warm-up

SYDNEY: The pair tipped to open for Australia in the first Test against India both failed with the bat in a warm-up against the tourists Monday, underlining the hosts’ vulnerability without talisman David Warner.

Rising star Will Pucovski and veteran Joe Burns are in line to form Australia’s top order after Warner suffered a groin strain that threatens to keep him out of the blockbuster series against Virat Kohli’s men which begins on December 17 in Adelaide.

The injury has transformed Pucovski and Burns from rivals competing for a place alongside Warner into likely opening partners.

But neither impressed against the new ball in Australia A’s match against India A in Sydney on Monday.

Pucovski made one from 23 balls before mis-hitting straight to fielder Shubman Gill, while Burns departed on four after nicking to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav claimed both wickets to press for inclusion in India’s pace attack for the four-Test series.

The lack of chemistry between Pucovski and Burns will be a concern for Australia’s selectors but options are limited without Warner.

Burns, 30, an experienced Test batsman who formed a formidable partnership with Warner last year, has struggled in domestic cricket recently, scoring just 57 runs in five Sheffield Shield innings.

Pucovski has been prolific domestically, snaring back-to-back double centuries for Victoria but is unproven at Test level.

Test greats such as Michael Clarke, Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh were clamouring for the 22-year-old’s inclusion even before Warner’s injury.

Barring a late inclusion for former opener Marcus Harris, the other option to open the batting in the Test squad is Marnus Labuschagne, who has indicated he is willing to move up the order if required.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.