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He will be Australia’s surprise weapon against India in the Test Series

He is Victoria’s rising star Todd Murphy, who has made a sudden entry into Australia’s Test squad for the Qantas Tour of India.

Murphy will be joining Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson as potential spinning partners for Nathan Lyon.

Swepson, who played four of Australia’s five Tests on the subcontinent last year and had a return of 10 wickets at 45, was favored over white-ball leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

National selectors have confirmed an 18-player squad for the four-Test Border-Gavaskar series.

Victoria captain Peter Handscomb is also in line for a Test recall for the first time since January 2019 and will join Matthew Renshaw as the reserve batters in the touring party.

Murphy, who had played just one first-class match prior to 2022, has bolted into the Test squad following his strong performances for Victoria, Australia A and the Prime Minister’s XI over the past 12 months.

He is viewed as a potential long-term successor to Lyon. The 22-year-old has the lowest average of any spin bowler in the Marsh Sheffield Shield season to date with 14 wickets at 17.71 in just three matches.

He showcased his match-winning ability by bowling Victoria to a final-day victory over NSW in the last match before the KFC BBL break.

“Todd Murphy has progressed quickly having impressed in domestic cricket and recently with Australia A. With those performances Todd has emerged as a strong spin option,” Selection Chair George Bailey said.

“Selection in this squad also provides another opportunity to spend time alongside Nathan Lyon and assistant coach Daniel Vettori in India which will be invaluable to his development.”

Opener Marcus Harris, who spent the summer travelling with the Australian squad before being released to the Melbourne Renegades during the New Year’s Test after Renshaw was recalled, has been omitted.

Uncapped quick Lance Morris, the 2022-23 Shield leading wicket-taker after six rounds, retains his place in the squad and could be a chance for an international debut with confirmation that Mitchell Starc would not join the squad until after the first Test in Nagpur as he recovers from tendon damage to his left middle finger.

Allrounder Cameron Green is also in a race against time to be fit for the opening Test after he fractured his right index finger during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa.

The inclusion of Agar and Murphy confirms the preference of finger spin for touring teams in India while Swepson, the only frontline wrist-spinner in the touring squad, offers variety.

It is understood that Australia’s premier white-ball spinner in Zampa was seriously considered after playing his first red-ball match in three years in early December to show that he was “keen” to play a role on the seven-week India tour if an opportunity arose.

Agar went wicketless in his Test return last week in Sydney but with the likelihood of India fielding an XI of almost entirely right-handers (with Rishabh Pant in severe doubt for the series due to injuries suffered in a car accident last month), he and Swepson will offer a point of difference to Lyon with their ability to spin the ball away.

“Ashton Agar continues to impress following his comeback in Sydney and we believe left-arm finger spin will play an important role in Indian conditions,” Bailey confirmed.

Australia and India will play four Tests in less than five weeks in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad.

Australia Test squad for tour of India:

Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

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