Starc replaces Johnson, Watson fit for 4th Test

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Sydney, Jan 5 (IANS) Australia captain Steve Smith Monday named one change for the fourth Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) starting Tuesday, confirming that Mitchell Starc will replace the injured Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson was ruled out of the final Test Sunday after failing to overcome hamstring soreness he sustained in the drawn Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.

Smith also confirmed that Watson had recovered from the stomach complaint that saw him leave Sunday’s training session early, and would take his place in the side.

Starc has starred for the Sydney Sixers in the KFC T20 Big Bash League since he was dropped after the first Test, bowling with venom and reaching speeds of 150 kmph in the 20-over format.

“I’m sure he’s (Starc) looking forward to playing out here in front of his home ground at the SCG. I think having one left-hander’s good for us,” Smith was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia website.

“The way we’ve seen Mitch go back into the Big Bash, it looks like he’s bowled exceptionally quick.”

“We’re looking hopefully for more of the same he’s produced in the Big Bash this week. If he sustains that for long periods and if he keep that type of pace up and sustain it throughout whole day he’s going to be an extremely amazing bowler.”

Starc’s yo-yo Test career will continue in Sydney. The left-armer has played 14 Tests spanning nine series since debuting in 2011 against New Zealand.

That series marks the only time the 24-year-old has played consecutive Tests.

Australia hold an unassailable 2-0 series lead heading into Sydney, and Smith admits if the series was still alive Johnson “probably” would have played.

“He’s got a little hamstring strain. I think there’s no secret there’s a pretty big summer coming up,” Smith said.

“We want him to be fresh for the one-dayers and World Cup coming up. We don’t want to risk him.”

Australia squad: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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