Australia hold off on naming Sydney Test XI as pitch takes precedence
Peter Handscomb could find himself back in Australia's XI. © AFP

Hosts Australia will wait until Thursday morning before they lock in their XI for the fourth and final Test against India, with Tim Paine and Justin Langer eager to have one last look at the Sydney Cricket Ground pitch.

“It’s just team balance really,” Paine told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s ongoing discussion the last day or two but we’ll have a final look at the wicket (this afternoon) and we’ll have our last chat then. We’re not too far away. As I said all along, we’ll be looking to pick the best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test and the wicket will play a part in that.”

The Western Australia allrounder Marnus Labuschange was named in Australia’s squad for the fourth Test, with the selectors keen to have another spin-bowling option on an SCG surface expected to assist turn. And with Steve Smith and David Warner’s bans coming to an end on March 29, Paine is looking at slotting the vastly experienced pair back in at some stage. (ALSO READ: Seven Australians hit the nets on New Year’s day to gear up for Sydney Test)

This could necessitate a move up to opening for Usman Khawaja while shifting Aaron Finch down the order. “Uzzie’s opening record in Test cricket is very good,” Paine said. “He’s been on record a few times saying he’s not too fussed where he bats. If that’s the way we go, Usman will go out and give his all as he always does. I think the way he’s handled the last month or so has been exemplary, it’s a real credit to him.”

Also in the mix is Peter Handscomb, who played in Adelaide and Perth before he was dropped for the MCG Test.  “If we think India were to play two spinners Pete could be a really important player for us,” said Paine.”We know how good a player of spin he is. That’s one of the discussions we’ll be having today, if we think India will go that way and if they are, are we prepared to bring him back in. (ALSO READ: In u-turn, R Ashwin named in India’s 13 for Sydney Test)

“I’m sure if he does (play), he’s an excellent player of spin and contributes a lot to the group in the field and around the team. He’s a bit like Marnus in that he’s a very good package, a good person around our team.”

Australia need to beat India at the SCG to level the four-match series 2-2.