Khawaja back in Australia squad for Boxing Day Test

Melbourne, Dec 13 (IANS) Australia have put in batsman Usman Khawaja’s name in the 13-man squad for the Boxing day cricket Test here against the West Indies.

Right-hander Khawaja missed the first Test between the two sides because of an injury. He will have two games for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League in the lead-up to the Boxing Day to push his case for a recall after his replacement, Shaun Marsh, made 182 in the comprehensive first Test win against the West Indies in Hobart, reports on Sunday.

The Queensland captain struck back-to-back centuries in the first two Tests of the summer against New Zealand before sustaining a hamstring injury on day two in Perth.

“Usman will come into the 13 for the Melbourne Test match subject to fitness. That’s the big one for us,” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said.

New South Wales (NSW) Blues left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe will join the team in Sydney as part of a 14-man squad for the New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“Then (Stephen) O’Keefe will come into Sydney as well. So we’ll have 13 and 14 for the next two Test matches and then with that we’ve got to make some decisions. Usman’s first got to be fit. If he’s not fit he won’t play, there’s no doubt about that.

“We’ve got to make sure he’s (Khawaja) playing BBL to get some sort of match fitness and see how the strain of the hamstring is and then when we get him in on the 23rd (December) we’ll have a look at him and see whether he’s available to play. We’ve got a dilemma. We’ve just got to pick the best team to win that particular game. If Usman is in then someone’s got to miss out. If he’s not in, then probably the same six (batsmen),” he concluded.

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