Finch set to stay at the top | cricketnetwork.com

Finch set to stay at the top

10 November 2018

ODI skipper set to retain opening spot for first Test against India as Usman Khawaja receives injury boost

Test skipper Tim Paine has revealed he has no plans to move Aaron Finch down the batting order for next month's Domain Test series against India.

But whether Finch will resume his opening partnership with Usman Khawaja for the opening Test at Adelaide Oval remains to be seen.

Finch fails to review in DRS drama

Finch shook off the unwanted tag of 'white-ball specialist' in the UAE last month, making his Test debut against Pakistan and impressing with scores of 62, 49, 39 and 31 as an opener alongside Khawaja.

The right-hander surged into the Test side on the back of his irresistible form in limited-overs cricket as well as his recent improvement against the red ball at domestic level, which came following a shift down the batting order.

Employing Finch as an opener on the flat surfaces in the UAE had been viewed as a 'horses for courses' move, but Paine says the Victorian has earned the right to retain that position for the four Tests against India.

"I think Finchy deserves that spot," Paine told cricket.com.au.

"He got picked on weight of runs in all formats of the game and in Dubai he was our best batsman, apart from Usman.

"I think he's earned the right to open the batting. But going forward, who knows? We know Aaron can bat anywhere from one to six so that's a real positive for us and for him."

Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who's seen the best of Finch as an opener in white-ball cricket, said last week he'd prefer to see the right-hander bat further down the order at Test level.

It's predominantly been the middle-order where Finch has thrived in recent years, lifting his career first-class batting average to 36 – it had once languished below 30 – having averaged 44.55 in the past four-and-a-half-years.

While he has seemingly been penciled in to open for the first Test starting on December 6, the identity of his opening partner is not yet clear.

Khawaja revealed on Thursday he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from minor knee surgery last month and he could either open or return to the No.3 spot for the Indian series.

One of Queensland pair Matthew Renshaw and Joe Burns could secure a recall with strong showings in the upcoming rounds of the JLT Sheffield Shield, while Victorian Marcus Harris is also building a case for a Baggy Green with an impressive start to the Shield season.

The type of batsman that jumps out of the pack at domestic level over the coming weeks – an opener or otherwise – will likely dictate where in the order Khawaja bats.

"I've spoken to Usman and he's not fussed where he bats," Paine said.

"I think his absolute preference if he was pushed on it would be to bat at three, but he's happy to bat wherever the team needs him.

"So hopefully he can get that knee right. If we can get him on the park for the first Test that'll be a great result, no matter where he's batting."

India Tour of Australia 2018-19

Gillette T20s v India

November 21: The Gabba

November 23: MCG

November 25: SCG

Domain Tests v India

December 6-10: Adelaide Oval

December 14-18: Perth Stadium

December 26-30: MCG

January 3-7: SCG

Gillette ODI Series v India

January 12: SCG (D/N)

January 15: Adelaide Oval (D/N)

January 18: MCG (D/N)

About the Writer

 @martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.