x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Australia show their faith in Hilfenhaus and Cowan

Out-of-form veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have been retained in the team to play India in the first Test.

MELBOURNE // Out-of-form veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have been retained in the Australia team to play India in the first Test beginning tomorrow at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Ponting, 37, has not scored a century in nearly two years, while Hussey has scored just 83 runs in his last seven Test innings.

David Warner, who scored a century on debut in the New Zealand Test, will open with Ed Cowan, who will make his Test debut replacing the dropped Phil Hughes.

Australia have decided to take just four genuine bowlers into the Test, with Shaun Marsh called up to the side ahead of all-rounder Dan Christian.

Marsh, who has been recovering from a back injury, has not played since the first Test in Cape Town against South Africa. He scored an unbeaten 99 in a Twenty20 match this week and will bat at No 3, while seamer Ben Hilfenhaus replaces 12th man Mitchell Starc.

Captain and selector Michael Clarke said he felt he has the right line-up to get 20 wickets.

Clarke said it was a gamble to leave out Christian on a flat pitch, especially with fellow all-rounder Shane Watson declared unfit with hamstring and calf strains.

"I'm confident we've got the best XI to help us win," Clarke said. "I can use Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl a few legspinners."

Hilfenhaus returns from an 11-month break with a remodelled bowling action, having recovered from knee tendinitis. "He's a very good new-ball bowler. He can bowl long spells and he's had success against India," Clarke said.