MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia opening batsman Aaron Finch has declared himself fit for the Boxing Day test against India in Melbourne and said his injured finger would need to be cut off to prevent him from playing in front of his home state’s fans.
Finch’s right index finger suffered a nasty blow when he was struck in the glove by a Mohammed Shami delivery in the second test in Perth, forcing him to retire hurt during Australia’s second innings.
He came back to face only one more delivery before being caught behind off the same bowler but it mattered little as Tim Paine’s Australia went on to claim a rousing 146-run win to level the four-match series at 1-1.
As a one-day specialist, Victoria batsman Finch has played to huge crowds at the MCG, including the World Cup triumph against New Zealand in 2015.
But Finch has yet to savour a Boxing Day test at the ground, one of the game’s biggest carnivals.
“With a Boxing Day test, being from Victoria, it’s going to have to be cut off (to not play),” Finch joked to reporters at the MCG before training on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a catch and bat today and reassess, but it feels like it’s improved 100 per cent over the last couple of days.
“I got sent some new bats, so I’ve been walking around the lounge room and waving them around. It feels OK.
“If anything changes in the next couple of days, we’ll have to sit down and chat about that but, at this stage, it’s still business as usual and I plan to field at slip and do whatever else is needed.”
After twin failures in the first test defeat in Adelaide, Finch scored 50 in the first innings in Perth in a vital 112-run opening partnership with Victoria team mate Marcus Harris.
The rookie opening pair then shored up their places in the squad with a 59-run stand in Australia’s second innings.
Compared to India, who have injuries nagging both their top spinners and major form concerns over both their opening batsmen, Australia head into the Wednesday’s Boxing Day test in a relative state of calm.
Australia are unlikely to tweak their attack for the MCG, and only middle order batsman Peter Handscomb is really sweating on his place after managing only 68 runs from his four innings.
Seam-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh could replace Handscomb and offer support for Australia’s pacemen on a drop-in wicket that did little for the bowlers in a dull draw against England last year.
But selectors would be replacing one out-of-form player with another.
Marsh has managed scores of 11, 21, 30 and six from his last four innings for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield, and was dismissed for three on Thursday in his last knock in the local ‘Big Bash’ Twenty20 competition.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly