Tim Paine’s decision to give young gun Jake Doran a bowl paid off in spectacular fashion during Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia.
Australia will enter the tour of India with plenty of confidence after kicking its own arse in Dubai.
The win for Steve Smith’s men in the intra-squad warm-up match sends a serious warning to their upcoming opponents on the eve of their historically humbling series beginning on February 23rd.
Australia boosted morale by securing the as-yet unverified win in disparate conditions and sweat pants, albeit against weak opposition.
Scheduled as a three day match to acclimatise to usual road habits, Australia showed no issues adjusting by bamboozling their hapless challengers on a pitch that will probably be nothing like that on offer in India.
While touted as a friendly warm-up, the fixture was played in a feisty spirit with the frequency of chat in the middle reaching levels only usually heard among established associates.
Plenty of notable individual performances emerged from the match, with almost all facilitated by the biased officiating of umpire Darren Lehmann.
Four wickets for Ashton Agar and a Shaun Marsh half-century put Australia on top on day one, before Australia fought back through a sensational Mitchell-whipping from Mitches Marsh and Swepson on day two.
Mitchell Marsh’s 53 was particularly timely, placing him in the box seat for selection in the coveted erratic all-rounder’s role.
With the ball, Swepson continued his rise from unknown to slightly less unknown with some eye-catching legspin, with the highlight of the day coming when he dismissed Usman Khawaja using a chair.
Such improv is what Australia will desperately need against the world’s number one team, and after setting a new Australian mark for most dismissals with seating, Swepson’s record-breaking feats can surely no longer be ignored.
The Queenslander is now firming to earn an extraordinary Test debut on the subcontinent, thus capping his breakneck rise to the top with an almost certain abrupt elimination of any chance at a long-term international career.
Other encouraging performances of note came from the bowling unit, with all given extended time in the middle to prepare for the inevitable slew of nightwatchman opportunities.
Somewhat predictably, Jackson Bird continued to show he has trouble moving on by clobbering a vengeful 41, while Steven O’Keefe’s 30* and Nathan Lyon’s 8 gave indication that Australia could potentially force a match in to a third day.
Despite the promising result, Australia triumphing over itself has presented headaches. The selection panel is now faced with a bulging pool of options for the first match of the series in Pune.
Of most contention is the makeup of the bowling attack.
Selectors are torn between a spin-heavy unit or slipping Laxettes into Virat Kohli’s Fanta.
While highly impressed by the performances of Agar, Bird and Matt Renshaw, selectors were at pains to remind the public this was only a practice match.
On the other hand, they were said to be dazzled by the Marsh brothers – nothing in particular, just everything – before reiterating that their stunning performances in a genuine selection trial such as this cannot be ignored.