Aussies make changes as Joe Burns' fate decided

Joe Burns walking off the field after the Test match against India.
Joe Burns has been dumped from the Australia squad ahead of the third Test in Sydney. (Getty Images)

Out-of-form opener Joe Burns' Test career appears all but over after he was axed from Australia's squad to face India in Sydney.

Explosive left-hander David Warner (groin) and prospective debutant Will Pucovski (concussion) have been named in the extended 18-man squad for the third Test, which begins on January 7.

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Right-arm quick Sean Abbott has also been picked after overcoming a calf injury.

Burns has been well below his best all summer, with only two scores greater than 11 in 13 first-class innings.

The 31-year-old produced an unbeaten half-century during Australia's successful run-chase in Adelaide but failed in both innings at the MCG - out for a duck and four - as India levelled the Border-Gavaskar series.

On Tuesday, Burns spent time savouring the moment and taking photos with his partner on the MCG playing arena about an hour after what could prove to be his final Test appearance.

He has been released to play BBL with Brisbane Heat.

"Unfortunately, Joe's returns haven't been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of," Australian national selector Trevor Hohns said.

Pucovski could make Test debut

Victorian batting prodigy Pucovski is in the final stages of his recovery from the bout of concussion that prevented him from making his Test debut in either of the first two matches.

The 22-year-old suffered his ninth concussion batting for Australia A on December 8.

"Will is in the final stages of the graduated return-to-play protocols and has been symptom free for some time," Hohns said.

"He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return-to-play protocols and an independent assessment."

Will Pucovski of Australia A looks on during day two of the three-day tour match between Australia A and India A at Drummoyne Oval on December 07, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
Will Pucovski of Australia A looks on during day two of the three-day tour match between Australia A and India A at Drummoyne Oval on December 07, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

If cleared to play, Pucovski shapes as a possible partner for Warner in an all-new opening partnership in Sydney after Burns and makeshift opener Matthew Wade were given the task in the first two matches.

Marcus Harris is another option at the top of the order, while the selection squeeze could see Wade or Travis Head miss out after all-rounder Cameron Green impressed in Melbourne.

Warner pressed his claims to return with a solid batting practice session in the MCG nets during the second Test, but is still unable to run at full pace.

"David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match," Hohns said.

Abbott has fully recovered from a calf strain but appears unlikely to force his way into the team with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood in good form.

Australia squad for Third Test:

Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins (vice-captain), Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

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