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14-Dec-2011 06:20:00 GMT
India in Australia 2011-12

Paine Ruled Out From India Test, Watson Unlikely to Bowl

Sydney: Australia's backup wicketkeeper and top order batsman Tim Paine has been ruled out of the entire four-Test series against India after being forced to undergo surgery on an injured finger.

All rounder Shane Watson has meanwhile indicated that he should be able to bat against the Indians in the first Test starting on December 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but was unlikely to be fit to bowl because of a hamstring injury.

Australia's Test team, particularly the batting line-up, has been the subject of much debate ahead of the India series after they crashed to a first Test defeat to New Zealand on home soil in 26 years on Monday.

Paine has long been the heir apparent to Brad Haddin in the Test side but been unable to put any pressure on his 34-year-old rival this season after injuring his right index finger in August.

Watson, Australia's player of the year for the last two years, missed the New Zealand Tests after sustaining the injury last month in South Africa, where he proved his increasing importance as a bowler with five wickets in the first test.

Watson has opened the batting for Australia for the last three seasons and would be the natural replacement for Phil Hughes if, as expected, the 23-year-old is dropped after a miserable series against the Kiwis.

The 30-year-old Watson has been lobbying for a move down the order after being asked to bowl more frequently since Michael Clarke took over as skipper - a debate new coach Mickey Arthur believes needs to be concluded sooner rather than later.

Experienced batsmen Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey also had a poor series against New Zealand but look likely to retain their places because of the lack of other options.

Top order batsman Shaun Marsh was ruled "unlikely" on Tuesday to be fit for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG because of a back injury. India, who have never won a test series in Australia, begin their first tour match in Canberra on Thursday.

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