Aussies confirm Marnus call as team locked in for second New Zealand Test

Aussies confirm Marnus call as team locked in for second New Zealand Test

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Australia have resisted any temptation to drop the out of form Marnus Labuschagne, with captain Pat Cummins confirming an unchanged XI for the second Test against New Zealand.

After scores of 1 and 2 in Australia’s 172-run victory in the first Test in Wellington, speculation had grown rife Labuschagne, whose form over the last 18 months has fallen off a cliff, could have his spot in jeopardy.

But with the Christchurch Test Australia’s last before next summer’s blockbuster five-Test home series against India, Cummins confirmed on Thursday morning Labuschagne would remain at number three, with the side which got the job done in Wellington backed in to repeat the dose.

Australia are seeking an eighth straight Test victory over the Black Caps, and haven’t lost a red-ball match in the country in more than 30 years.

New Zealand will unveil express paceman Ben Sears for his Test debut, replacing injured youngster Will O’Rourke (hamstring), while a decision is yet to be made on whether quick Scott Kuggeleijn will be retained, or specialist spin bowler Mitchell Santner recalled.

Australia XI for second Test

Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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