Australia A vice-captain Alex Carey is set to miss the second unofficial Test against India A starting Saturday as he has returned home for the birth of his child. Peter Handscomb will keep wicket in his place. Meanwhile, opening batsman Matt Renshaw is on track for selection for the second Test, having missed the first with a hamstring strain.
Carey had an impressive outing behind the stumps during the first match in Bengaluru, and although his two catches in the game don't tell that story, Carey was reliable on a low and slow pitch, particularly as it deteriorated on the last day.
With Australia likely to rotate the squad around to bring in two spinners - Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson - Handscomb's job as stand-in keeper will be particularly challenging. While Handscomb is no stranger to wicketkeeping, having done the job for Victoria, Melbourne Stars and Yorkshire before, it has largely been restricted to limited-overs cricket.
According to ESPNcricinfo's records, Handscomb last started a first-class match as designated wicketkeeper in December 2015, when he kept for Victoria in Melbourne during the Sheffield Shield.
Handscomb has kept in India before, in an ODI in Indore last year, but the rigours of a four-day game will be markedly different.
It will also add extra pressure in what will be Handscomb's final push for a spot in the senior Test squad for their series against Pakistan in the UAE next month. Handscomb's last first-class century came in February this year, but in the seven innings since - including two in the Johannesburg Test against South Africa - Handscomb has managed to get into double-figures on only one occasion. Handscomb had a poor quadrangular series last month as well, managing only four runs in two innings, and is on something of a remodelling phase, having admitted that bowlers had worked him out.
Handscomb still remains a strong contender for Test selection, particularly for his skills against spin. With the additional responsibility of wicketkeeping, he could be pushed down the order, presumably to No. 6 where his said skills will be more prominently on display. It could allow him both time and freedom to get himself in, unlike in Bengaluru where in both innings at No. 4, he was at the centre of middle-order collapses. Should that be the case, Queensland's Marnus Labuschagne could be pushed up the order. Labuschagne, who had stayed back with the Test squad for the first Test as a reserve for the injured Renshaw, will now remain with the squad for the second game as well.
Australia A squad for the second Test: Usman Khawaja, Matthew Renshaw, Kurtis Patterson, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh (capt), Peter Handscomb (wk), Marnus Labuschagne, Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Jon Holland, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Mitchell Swepson, Chris Tremain