India vs Australia: Tim Paine hints at Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris as new Test openers
Marcus Harris is set to make his Test debut against India in Adelaide. (file photo)

Australia s captain Tim Paine has hinted at Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris being the new opening pair for the first Test against India next month, while stating that the next round of Sheffield Shield matches is critical to the hosts determining their batting order.

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The selectors called up the uncapped Harris on Thursday in a 14-man squad for the first two Tests versus India, along with his Victorian team-mates Peter Handscomb and Chris Tremain. It has been surmised over the past week that Finch, who opened in his first two Tests in the UAE, could drop down into the middle order against India with Usman Khawaja back in the squad and Shaun Marsh slated to bat at No 3.

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Paine, however, has said the the Victorian pair of Harris and Finch would be a good opening act come December 6.

“I think if Finchy plays for us … I dare say it is going to be at the top of the order,” Paine said on Friday ahead. “If they’re the two we go with, I’m totally comfortable with that.”

Aaron Finch opened in his debut Test series in the UAE.
Aaron Finch opened in his debut Test series in the UAE.(Getty Images)

One round of Shield matches remains ahead of the Adelaide Test next month, in which Khawaja will captain Queensland versus Victoria next week as he returns to competitive cricket after undergoing knee surgery last month and Mitchell Marsh will turn out for Western Australia.

“We’ve got Mitch Marsh in the side at six at the moment. If conditions dictate and you only need four bowlers, you could play all of the batsmen and shuffle the order around,” said Paine. “It’s important we’ve got lots of options. Clearly this next Shield round is really important for a number of guys.”

Harris is the second-highest run-getter of the Shield season with 437 at 87.40 which includes two sixties and an unbeaten 250 against New South Wales. Khawaja and Finch opened in the Pakistan series, but Paine has tipped Harris to get the nod for a debut at Adelaide Oval.

“I’ve always thought Marcus Harris was an excellent player, even when he was playing for WA,” said Paine. “I think his defence has improved a lot and he’s had that really good attacking game and can score very quickly. So I think his game is pretty well suited to Test cricket.”