Australia unveil shock selection to replace Hazlewood for Bangladesh tour

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    Australia has made the sensational decision to recall left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe for the remainder of the Bangladesh tour after Josh Hazlewood was ruled out with a side strain.

    Hazlewood succumbed to the injury on the third day’s play of the first Test while bowling in the second innings.

    With a second Test starting on Monday in Chittagong, and Hazlewood being ruled out of both the remainder of this tour and the upcoming ODI series against India, Australia have promptly named O’Keefe as the replacement, despite the swap being anything but like-for-like.

    O’Keefe was left out of the touring party for Bangladesh after playing against India during March. At the time, national selector Trevor Hohns said O’Keefe’s performances weren’t up to standard on that tour to warrant selection this time around, despite spinning Australia to victory in Pune.

    Instead, Australia went with Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson as the three tweakers, while all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was also included in the squad.

    “Whilst Steve O’Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series and we believe the timing is right for Ashton to enter the set-up and test his all-rounder ability,” Hohns said at the time.

    Now recalled for Hazlewood, it sets an intriguing scenario for the Aussies, who may opt to make a double change for the second Test.

    While Hazlewood is likely to be replaced by the only other pace bowler in the squad, Jackson Bird, there is also a chance that one of the batsmen – possibly Usman Khawaja, who scored just two runs in the first Test – could be dropped.

    That would pave the way for O’Keefe to strengthen the tail, with Ashton Agar, who made Australia’s second highest score with 41 in the first innings, to bat at No.7 while everyone shuffles up a spot.

    With Swepson also in the squad, and arguments being made each way about the batsmen, Australia may only stick with the single change, bringing Bird in for Hazlewood, but recalling O’Keefe creates plenty of intrigue around the XI for the second Test.

    Hazlewood is expected to bat in the second innings if required before flying home. Australia are currently 2 for 109, requiring 265 for victory with David Warner and Steve Smith at the crease.

    It’s expected Hazlewood will be fit to play the Ashes, starting in November.

    Day 4 resumes at 2pm (AEST) on Wednesday and you can join The Roar for live coverage.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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