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Ponting expects fresh Australia faces for Ashes and World Test Championship final

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New Delhi: Australia legend Ricky Ponting believes his former side will take plenty of positives from their current tour of India, but expects to see some different faces in their squad when they travel to England for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship final and the eagerly-awaited battle for the Ashes.

While Australia currently trail India 2-1 and have failed to regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy they so dearly crave, they showed plenty of spirit when winning their first Test match on Indian soil since 2017 when they registered an comprehensive nine-wicket triumph over their rivals in Indore.

The victory was led by a superb 11-wicket match haul from veteran spinner Nathan Lyon, while fellow tweakers Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy also chipped in well and both have performed admirably at various stages of the tour.

Ponting was discussing Australia’s performances in India with host Sanjana Ganesan on the most recent episode of The ICC Review and the two-time World Cup winning captain said there have been plenty of positives the tourists can take from the series.

“I think all the spinners (have performed well) … and I think at different times, most of the batters have actually shown that they can cope and survive in those conditions,” Ponting said.

“The quicks haven’t had a chance to bowl and Australia have had the guys coming in and out as well. But I think, Usman (Khawaja), Travis (Head), (Marnus) Labuschagne, (Steve) Smith and then all of the spinners that have played, I think there are some real positives there,” he said.

“It’s just a bit of a shame that it’s taken Australia to the start of the third Test match to find the right style of play,” Ponting said.

While Australia will be doing their utmost to square the series against India with a victory in the final Test in Ahmedabad, their attention following that clash will quickly turn to their tour of England in the middle of the year that will include the World Test Championship Final at The Oval and a five-match Test series against their Ashes rivals.

Ponting expects Australia to take a large contingent of players to Europe for the lengthy two-month tour, but thinks it may include some faces that haven’t featured in India.

“Matt Renshaw was picked on this (India) tour because everyone felt he was a good player of spin. Peter Handscomb was picked on this tour to India because he’s a good player of spin bowling. I think you’ve seen that through this series at different times. But when you think about the different set of conditions in the UK, then I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe neither of those guys are on that tour,” Ponting noted,” he said.

“I think there’s a good chance that Renshaw will be on that tour, but I’m not so sure about Handscomb and if he’ll make it to England or not,” Ponting said.

“Someone like Marcus Harris might even get another opportunity back into that Ashes squad. He

was part of the squads through the Australian summer without actually playing,” he said.

Ponting also thinks there may be some room for a couple of surprise selections for the England tour, with the Australia great predicting uncapped speedster Lance Morris and promising all-rounder Aaron Hardie may be in contention to make the trip.

“Lance Morris is part of that (India) squad and maybe someone like Aaron Hardie (could be a bolter too),” Ponting suggested.

“I actually threw his (Hardie) name up when Cameron Green was going to miss that last Test (against South Africa) in Sydney,” he said.

“I threw Aaron Hardie’s name up as an all-rounder, a similar type of player to Green, not as quick with the ball, but a very good batsman who made a brilliant a hundred in the (domestic) Sheffield Shield final last year,” Ponting said.

“But his selection might depend on someone like Mitchell Marsh, if he’s back to full fitness, then he’s probably going to find his way on the plane to England as a back-up all-rounder for Cameron Green as well,” he added.

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