DHAKA, (Reuters) – Australia batsman Usman Khawaja and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar will play the first test against Bangladesh beginning today, skipper Steve Smith has confirmed.
Both left-handed opener Khawaja and Agar toured India earlier this year but neither played in any of the four tests which Smith’s men lost 2-1.
“I think he’s a player who has worked very hard on playing against spin,” Smith said of Khawaja who averages less than 20 in the sub-continent.
“I know he didn’t get an opportunity in India, but he spent a lot of time in the nets working on lots of things and finding different ways to play and I’m sure that’ll hold him in good stead for this series as well.”
Agar will join off-spinner Nathan Lyon in Australia’s slow bowling attack to play his first test since the 2013 Lord’s game against Ashes rivals England.
“I think he’s come a long way over the last year particularly,” Smith said of the 23-year-old.
“He’s been bowling very well in the nets. His lengths have been exceptional so if he can get those right in the game I’m sure he’ll have a big impact for us.”
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell retains his number six spot in the batting order while Australia stuck with specialist wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, resisting the temptation to try part-timer Peter Handscomb and accommodate an extra player.
David Warner will partner Matthew Renshaw at the top of the batting order, while the New South Wales duo of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will lead the pace attack.
Smith’s counterpart Mushfiqur Rahim said Bangladesh were capable of surprising the visitors in the two-test series.
“They are a very good team. But we have the ability to beat them on our home soil,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
“For that, we will have to play really well.”