Monday, 5 January 2015

Starc replaces injured Johnson for final India Test

Sydney: Australia replaced injured Mitchell Johnson with another left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc on Monday in their only change for this week's fourth and final Test against India.

Skipper Steve Smith said Johnson, who has a hamstring strain, would "probably" have played at the Sydney Cricket Ground match beginning on Tuesday had the four-Test series been in the balance.

"I think there's no secret there's a pretty big summer coming up," Smith said.

"We want him to be fresh for the One-dayers and World Cup coming up. We don't want to risk him."

Johnson, 33, who bowled long spells during the first three Tests against India, had some right hamstring soreness during the Boxing Day Test and had not fully recovered since then, CA physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said on Sunday.

Starc's confirmation in the team puts him ahead of paceman Peter Siddle and second-choice spinner Ashton Agar, who had been included in the squad.

Australia regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy last week after India hung on for a tense draw in the third Test in Melbourne. Australia won the first two Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane.

Smith was forthright when asked if he expected the niggle between the two sides to taper off this week.

"It's still another Test match for us, we'll be looking to win," Smith said.

"We're still going to play that aggressive brand of cricket that we've been playing the whole summer.

"I don't think we're going to change anything."

Shane Watson was too ill to bat in the nets on Sunday, but he bowled and batted on Monday.

The allrounder was named in the starting eleven and is expected to play on Tuesday.

"I spoke to him last night. He said he was feeling better," Smith said.

Having already sealed a series win, Smith added he would be "a bit more aggressive" regarding potential declarations at the SCG.

Australia set the tourists a 384-run victory target off just 70 overs on the final day in Melbourne, after batting throughout the morning session and declaring at lunchtime.

The match finished in a draw with India on 174 for six.

Smith, who was captaining Australia for a second Test while Michael Clarke is injured, was questioned about his declaration call at his post-match press conference and said: "We really didn't want to give India a sniff (of victory)."

Australia — David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood. (AFP)

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