Australia’s Peter Handscomb. Picture: REUTERS
Australia’s Peter Handscomb. Picture: REUTERS

Adelaide — Australia vice-captain and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been dropped for the first Test against India as selectors backed the team’s three specialist seamers to bowl a full workload at Adelaide Oval.

Marsh’s place in the side for the series opener, which starts on Thursday, has been taken by middle order batsman Peter Handscomb, recalled for the first time since the tour of SA in March and April.

Despite scoring a century for Sheffield Shield side Western Australia in the lead-up, Marsh pays the price for a poor tour of the UAE, where he managed 30 runs from four innings with the bat against Pakistan and two wickets at the cost of almost 100 runs with the ball.

“Mitch Marsh probably hasn’t been as consistent as he would like and we would like,” captain Tim Paine said at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, confirming that Handscomb would bat fifth in the order, with local favourite Travis Head at six.

“We know he’s good enough to be a genuine all-rounder at Test level.

“The quicks are going to have to bowl a bit more and we have full faith that Nathan Lyon can do the job.”

Paine confirmed Marcus Harris would make his Test debut and open the batting with Aaron Finch in the opener of the four-match series, Australia’s first home Test since Steve Smith and David Warner were banned over the Newlands balltampering scandal in March.

“He ’s been a really consistent player for the past three years and thoroughly deserves the opportunity,” Paine said of Harris.

“He’s an aggressive little player, he’ll play his shots but he’s also improved his defence.”

Australia coach Justin Langer earlier confirmed that batsman Usman Khawaja would take his place in the side despite the arrest of his brother on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice on Tuesday.

With a scorching 39°C forecast for Adelaide on Thursday, Paine said Australia would be inclined to bat first if he won the toss against his counterpart, Virat Kohli.

“You want to bat on days when it’s 40 degrees,” said the wicketkeeper.”