Boxing Day Test: Debutant Burns to bat at six, Ryan Harris returns in place of Starc

While debutant Joe Burns will replace the injured Mitchell Marsh at No. 6, Australia is also bringing back Ryan Harris, who has recovered from the side strain he sustained during the first Test

Melbourne: Debutant Joe Burns will bat at number six and paceman Ryan Harris returns for Australia in the third Boxing Day Test against India, skipper Steve Smith said on Thursday.

Smith, who won his first Test as captain as a replacement for the injured Michael Clarke at the Gabba last weekend, said Harris would come into the side at the expense of paceman Mitchell Starc for the Melbourne Test match.

Joe Burns
Joe Burns. Pic/Getty Images

Burns, 25, who has the flexibility of batting anywhere in the top six, replaces injured allrounder Mitchell Marsh. Shane Watson will continue to bat at number three despite scores of 14, 33, 25 and 0 so far in the series against India.

Smith said he had opted for continuity in the third Test with Burns taking Marsh's place lower in the order.

"Shane Watson's best suited at the top of the order ... Joe will slot in at number six," Smith told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"Mitch has been playing some pretty good cricket ... he was starting to find his feet.

"Disappointing for him, but Joe Burns gets his opportunity on Boxing Day and it's going to be a very special week for him.

"You've got to enjoy it, but I think it's just another cricket game for him and he's been hitting the ball really well, so look, I'm looking forward to seeing him come out here and hopefully score a few runs in this Test match," he said.

David Warner, Watson and Shaun Marsh have been passed fit to play. Watson and Marsh have recovered after being struck in the nets this week, while Warner will play despite taking a blow on his left thumb during the Gabba Test.

"It was a bit sore when it hit the splice or the toe of the bat but that's to be expected but I feel good and I'm ready to go," Warner said.

"I tried to have a dip at the spinners (in the nets) to see if I could actually hit the ball as hard as I can and it did feel real sore but I had to try and grind it out and get through that pain and I was able to do that."

Australia will reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy if they defeat India after winning the opening Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the four-Test series.

India have lost their last five encounters at the MCG stretching back 23 years.

Australia - David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Joe Burns, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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