Oz leave out Christian, Starc for 1st Test

Melbourne: All-rounder Dan Christian was left out, while opener Ed Cowan was expectedly handed a Test debut in the final XI announced today by Australian skipper Michael Clarke for the opening cricket Test against India, starting here on Monday.

Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc also failed to find a place in the final XI, which will have pacer Ben Hilfenhaus who is set to play his first Test since last year`s Ashes.

A fit-again Shaun Marsh, who had been battling a back problem, was named at number three after his 99-run knock in a Twenty20 Big Bash knock earlier this week.

The out-of-form duo of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have also retained their positions from the 13-member squad that was announced by the selectors.

"I`m confident we`ve got the best XI to win this Test match in these conditions," Clarke said.

"I can use Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and myself to bowl a few overs. David Warner can bowl a few legspinners. I feel we`ve got the right XI to give ourselves a chance of winning this Test match," he added, explaining the decision to go with a four-pronged attack.

"DC (Christian) offers a lot with both bat and ball but unfortunately for him right now we can`t fit him into the XI," Clarke said.

Clarke said Hilfenhaus` ability to bowl long spells was a major factor in the decision to pick him for the eagerly-anticipated match.

"I think it plays a part. His control, he`s a very good new ball bowler. He can bowl long spells. He`s had success against India as well. There`s a few reasons we decided to go with Hilfy," Clarke said.

Speaking on Marsh` fitness, Clarke said the prolific batsman`s back is finally holding up.

"His back is fine. He`s taken it easy yesterday and today to make sure he`s fully recovered and ready to go come Boxing Day. I`d imagine you`ll see Shaun out here tomorrow facing some bowlers or at least having some throwdowns. He`s 100 per cent ready to go," he said.

Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.