Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

Ashes 2021-22, Australian Test cricket, Australian Test team, Cricket, featured, hobart test, Marcus Harris, Scott Boland, Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja has won the race over Marcus Harris to open the batting in the Australian team for the final Test of the Ashes against England in Hobart, starting on Friday.

Khawaja will open the batting alongside his childhood friend and former NSW teammate David Warner with Travis Head reclaiming the No.5 spot in the batting order after sitting out the drawn fourth Test against England in Sydney after contracting COVID-19.

Scott Boland, the find of the series, has not yet been ruled out after suffering a rib injury after falling in his follow-through in the first innings of the fourth Test and the team will wait to see how he goes at training before making a final call on whether he plays.

Boland had taken seven wickets in each of his first two games at Test level, including a memorable 6-7 at the MCG, to roar into calculations to be the unlikely Compton-Miller Medal winner for player of the series.

Australian captain Pat Cummins confirmed the Khawaja change on Thursday in his final media conference before Friday’s day-nighter begins.

Khawaja was named man of the match in his comeback Test after stroking a majestic 137 in the first innings at the SCG and then adding an unbeaten 101 in the second dig.

The Queensland skipper is not a specialist opener but he has played five Tests at the top of the order, making 484 runs at 96.8 with centuries against South Africa in 2016 and Pakistan two years later.

Harris has been the least-convincing Australian batter in the series, compiling 179 runs at 29.83 in four Tests. He’s played 14 matches at Test level and the Victorian left-hander has yet to hit a hundred despite 26 trips to the crease.

There had been speculation that pace spearhead Mitchell Starc could be rested after playing all four Tests but the pink-ball wizard is again set to lead the attack.

Jhye Richardson is pushing for a return to the team although he needs to prove he has overcome his shin complaint while Michael Neser, who made his debut in the second Test in Adelaide, is also in the frame should Boland be ruled out.

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