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Ashes 2019: Tim Paine sure of Usman Khawaja’s availability for first test

Cricket Australia selectors are set to name the Ashes squad at the end of the four-day game between Hick XII, led by Paine and Haddin XII captained by Travis Head.

SNS | New Delhi |

Australia Test team skipper Tim Paine is confident that left-handed batsman Usman Khawaja will be fit and available for the first Ashes Test against England to be played at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham beginning 1 August.

Notably, Khawaja had picked up a hamstring injury during Australia’s clash with South Africa in the recently concluded World Cup and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament. He will also not be available for the warm-up Test slated to begin Tuesday.

“I don’t think he’s in serious doubt (of missing the first Ashes Test),” cricket.com.au quoted Paine as saying in Southampton.

“He’s in a rehab stage so the decision has been made that he won’t play at this stage. There is a possibility, maybe, if something were to happen to someone else he might be right for the back end of the game,” said Paine, adding, “But we expect him to be fully fit and available for selection for the first Test.”

The 32-year-old southpaw has been batting at the no.3 spot since the last Ashes series in England four years ago, posting eight centuries at an average of 47.76 in that period.

Cricket Australia selectors are set to name the Ashes squad at the end of the four-day game between Hick XII, led by Paine and Haddin XII captained by Travis Head.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith will be making a comeback to Test cricket after 16 months due to the ban following the Sandpapergate incident in March, 2018 at Newlands in Cape Town. The former captain is back in the Test squad with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft — the other two players who had served the ban for the same incident.

(With inputs from IANS)