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Australia announces trimmed squad for Melbourne Test

The home side crushed the visitors by 360 runs inside four days at Perth on Sunday, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon taking his 500th wicket.

Opener David Warner hit a battling 164 to ensure he retained his place for the Boxing Day Test in what is expected to be his farewell series.

The 37-year-old has indicated that the third Test in Sydney will be his last and had been under pressure after a lean run with,h former fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, saying he did not deserve a hero’s farewell.

Morris was released to play in the Big Bash League with pace spearheads Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood injury-free and Scott Boland the first choice should a replacement be needed.

“Lance has been released for the Melbourne match but will stay prepared for Test cricket as he remains firmly in our plans for the summer, should an opportunity arise,” said chief selector George Bailey. “Otherwise, the squad remains unchanged following the strong performance in Perth.”

With Cameron Green eager to break back into Australia’s starting XI, Marnus Labuschagne felt a rush of relief when he was cleared to play in the second Test after taking a nasty blow to his pinky finger in the hosts’ series-opening win.

Labuschagne needed medical attention after being struck on the right hand by debutant Khurram Shahzad early in the second innings in Perth before top-edging the Pakistan quick to be out for two.

All-rounder Green, who lost his place in the squad to Mitchell Marsh, texted best wishes before Labuschagne went in for a scan.

Labuschagne joked that he told Green not to get his hopes up.

“He just said, ‘I hope it all goes well, good luck,’” Labuschagne told reporters. “I just said, ‘It’s not going to make a difference, mate.’

“It’s going to have to take something pretty serious to have me miss a game.”

Labuschagne was one of several batters sporting bruises in the wake of Australia’s win on day four after the Perth Stadium pitch deteriorated rapidly.

Marsh, Steve Smith, and Usman Khawaja all suffered body blows, while Pakistan were skittled for 89 in their second innings.

Pundits questioned whether the cracked wicket was too lively for a fair contest, but Labuschagne stopped short of calling it unsafe.

“No one likes batting when it’s like that, up and down. The sharp, steep bounce on a fast wicket. It’s not a cup of tea for anyone,” he said. “But you just have to find a way when it’s like that.”

Squad: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green.

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