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Langer wants Usman Khawaja to convert solid starts into hundreds
Sri Lanka tour of Australia

Langer wants Usman Khawaja to convert solid starts into hundreds

Coach Justin Langer said senior batsman Usman Khawaja must convert solid starts into big scores, as Australia aim to come back hard when they face Sri Lanka this week.

Australia axed Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb and the Marsh brothers after their defeat against India. But Khawaja survived the axe and Langer is expecting some fireworks from his number three.

"I had a good hit with him yesterday actually in the nets up here at Allan Border Field in Brisbane," Langer told SEN radio of Khawaja, who has a top score of just 72 this summer across Tests and ODIs.

"He admitted he's been frustrated.

"But he seems fine. He's in the best physical condition of his life, he's training hard, he's playing well, but that's often the way in Test cricket.

"We need him to stand up. He knows that, he's our most senior batsman. He needs and we need him to turn some of those great starts into hundreds for us."

The first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka starts under lights with a pink ball at the Gabba, with all their batsmen under pressure to do better against the sixth-ranked team in the world.

In-form Joe Burns has been recalled to the squad for the first time since the South Africa tour early last year and could open the innings with rookie Marcus Harris, who impressed well enough to keep his place in the side.

But they face competition from Matt Renshaw, who has been handed another opportunity despite misfiring in the domestic Sheffield Shield this season.

Young batting prodigy Will Pucovski was the surprise pick for the series and is widely tipped to make his debut this week.

'Pucovski terrific young bloke'

Langer wouldn't reveal whether the 20-year-old would be in the starting XI, but said he watched him in the nets on Tuesday and "he's a very, very good-looking player".

"There's always those considerations (whether Pucovski is ready for Test cricket) ... probably the toughest part of the job is selection and you weigh it up and that's all that's on your mind really," said Langer.

"But he's a terrific young bloke. Regardless of if he plays or not, it's a great learning experience for him at the moment."

Despite the 2-1 India series loss, selectors kept faith with their pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, with veteran Peter Siddle also included.

But Hazlewood has since been ruled out of the series with a back injury, opening the door for Jhye Richardson, who impressed in the one-day series against India.

Hazlewood and Mitch Marsh were co-vice captains of Australia and with both now missing, Travis Head and Cummins were elevated to the roles on Tuesday.

"It is a fitting reward for their professionalism and dedication to drive the elite standards of the Australian men's Test team," said national selector Trevor Hohns.