Recently Finished
Live Cricket
Upcoming Matches
No live scores available
View All Matches
Paine sets his sights on long-term improvement as series loss looms
India tour of Australia

Paine sets his sights on long-term improvement as series loss looms

Australia captain Tim Paine insisted that his priority was to develop his inexperienced cricket team for the future even as they face the prospect of losing a home series against India for the first time.

But he pledged that Australia would still pick the "best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test" once they had seen the SCG pitch.

Australia, who have never lost a home series against India, go into Thursday's fourth Test 2-1 down and in danger of Virat Kohli's men completing a historic landmark Down Under.

While Australia must win to level the series, Paine said that his aim was on improvement, particularly in the batting department, with home Tests to come against Sri Lanka ahead of an Ashes tour to England this year.

‘Focus on improving and playing best cricket’

"It doesn't for me personally," he said on whether preventing an India series win was his key motivation.

"Other guys may use it but my focus has been on us improving and on us playing the best possible cricket that we can and when we haven't, making sure we learn from it."

The hosts' top order has largely failed to fire and the odds are against that the under performing Aaron Finch, who will either be pushed down or axed, with number three Usman Khawaja moving up to open alongside Marcus Harris.

"If that's the way we go, Usman will go out and give his all as he always does. I think the way he's handled the last month or so has been exemplary, it's a real credit to him," said Paine.

‘Pick the best possible XI’

The captain said he wanted a final look at the wicket before selecting the team, adding that conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground would determine which members of the 14-man squad were left on the sidelines.

"It's just team balance really," he said. "There's ongoing discussion the last day or two but we'll have a final look at the wicket and we'll have our last chat then.

"We're not too far away. As I said all along, we'll be looking to pick the best XI that we think is the best combination to win this Test and the wicket will play a part in that."

The SCG wicket has a healthy green tinge which will suit both team's opening bowlers, before it could deteriorate to give something to the spinners later on in the game.

Australia have roped in leg-spinning batsman Marnus Labuschagne into the squad for Sydney and he could start if selectors feel there is enough in the track to warrant playing him alongside Nathan Lyon.

And if India opt for two spinners, it could open the door for a return of Peter Handscomb, who is renowned as a fantastic player of spin. But that would put Mitch Marsh’s spot at risk.

Paine said it was crucial that the batsmen play their part in Sydney, with none of them getting more than 50 in Melbourne with the exception of tailender Pat Cummins.

"This Test is going to be a real focus for our batting group. We know we're not going to win Test matches without scoring hundreds," he said.

"That's something we've spoken about and something we are really keen to improve and address,” he concluded.