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Burns to bat at six for Australia against India

MELBOURNE: Joe Burns will bat at number six when he makes his debut for Australia in the third test against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, starting on Friday.

The 25-year-old, regarded as one Australia’s most promising young batsmen, replaced injured all-rounder Mitch Marsh in one of two changes to the Australian team that won last week’s second test in Brisbane.

Paceman Ryan Harris, who missed the second test because of a thigh problem, returns at the expense of Mitchell Starc.

Burns hit his highest first class score last month when he made 183 for Queensland against New South Wales. The right-handed top order batsman has scored nearly 3,000 first class runs at an average of 42.

Burns normally bats at opener in Australia’s domestic competition and there was speculation he might come in at three after Shane Watson was hit in the head during practice this week.

But captain Steve Smith said Watson would remain in his normal position to ensure some continuity in the reshuffled lineup.

“Shane Watson is best suited at the top of the order … Joe will slot in at number six,” Smith told reporters on Thursday.

Marsh had already made himself unavailable for the match after straining a hamstring in Brisbane but could be ready for the final test in Sydney in the first week of January.

“Mitch has been playing some pretty good cricket … he was starting to find his feet,” Smith said.

“Disappointing for him … but Joe Burns gets his opportunity on Boxing Day and it’s going to be a very special week for him.”

Starc struggled to produce his best in Brisbane but Smith said he could be back soon.

“You never know, the three back-to-back test matches is pretty heavy on our fast bowlers so you might see him back in the team next week,” Smith said.

Australia also won the first test in Adelaide so only need to draw one of the two remaining matches to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Australia team: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood. (Reuters)

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