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Australia were bowled out for 151 in reply to India’s 443/7d (AFP Photo)

Australia suffered a batting collapse on Day 3 of their third Test against India to be skittled for 151, conceding a big first-innings lead with the series levelled at 1-1.

India had declared at 443/7 after opting to bat on a Melbourne track which has become difficult for batting. Former Test batsman Mark Waugh reckons that Australia don’t have top-class replacements lined up for the current crop of cricketers as there’s no one setting the first-class cricket competition on fire.

“No doubt lots of questions will be asked about Australia’s batting line-up for the SCG Test and beyond after the disappointing performance against India on day three in Melbourne,” Waugh wrote in his column for Fox Sports. “But to be honest, there’s no possible replacement really jumping out of the pack that’s not already in the Aussie Test squad.”

After failing in the first two Tests, middle order batsman Peter Handscomb was replaced by allrounder Mitchell Marsh who managed 9 off 36 before falling to Ravindra Jadeja. While Cheteshwar Pujara scored a century followed by fifties from captain Virat Kohli and debutant Mayank Agarwal, none of the Aussie batsmen crossed 22.

“Peter Handscomb was dropped for Mitchell Marsh for the MCG Test against India. But because there’s no Shield cricket being played at the moment due to Big Bash League, it’s hard to pick someone who’s in form in the longer form. The batsmen in the Australian side now can play. They’re still probably the best batsmen in the country. Yes you’d love blokes to be averaging 50 in Shield cricket, but they’re not doing that,” Waugh wrote.
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He continued, “Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh are very classy players, Marcus Harris has looked pretty good in nearly every innings and Travis Head has been good at times. There are some positive signs. But the Aussies have just got to find a way to score more runs with the bat, which is clearly the side’s biggest issue.

Australia are missing two of their premier batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner who are both serving a 12-month ban for their roles in ball-tampering scandal earlier this year.

“When it gets tough, Australia needs every member of its top six to push through and score. This will happen once they get their shot selection right and are thinking straight out in the middle. And when they are settled at the crease, they’re more likely to make the opposition pay,” Waugh observed.