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Left handed batsman Shaun Marsh was dropped from Australia’s starting XI to make way for the returning Usman Khawaja for Saturday’s Boxing Day Test against the West Indies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia captain Steve Smith confirmed the XI at his captain’s press conference on the eve of the second Test against the West Indies on Friday, with national selectors allowing Joe Burns to keep his place at the top of the order.

Smith will bat at number four, with Khawaja to return to the No.3 spot he started to lay long-term claims to during the recent series against New Zealand.

Khawaja’s return is the only change to the side which cruised to a thumping win over the West Indies in the first Test in Hobart, with Australia sticking to the pace attack of Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson, leaving uncapped Victorian seamer Scott Boland on the sidelines.

Smith said Marsh was “very unlucky” to miss out, with stability at the top of the order behind the decision.

“That was a big part of it, Joe’s been playing quite good cricket, he scored a hundred only a couple of Tests ago,” Smith said.

“I think they (Burns and Warner) average 80 as a pair and it’s important to have a good opening stand so the selectors thought that was the right way to go.”

“There’s been a lot of conversations around it, Shaun is obviously really unlucky to miss out after a brilliant 180 in last test match and 49 under a bit of pressure in Test before. There’s been lots of talks about it just and they just believe that’s the best way to go going forward.” (With Inputs From IANS).


West Indies (From): Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin(w), Jason Holder(c), Carlos Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Miguel Cummins, Devendra Bishoo.

Australia (From): David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith(c), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill(w), James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland, Shaun Marsh.