Spinner Holland eyes Australia’s UAE Tests

Forgotten spinner Jon Holland has strengthened his claims for a long-awaited Test recall with a solid showing for Australia A in India.

Holland took 3-89 from an economical 29.1 overs as the tourists dismissed India A for 274 on day two of their four-day match at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

Australia A were 1-42 at stumps, holding an 11-run lead after making 243 in their first innings.

National coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns are using the Australia A hitouts as auditions for next month’s two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE, where turning tracks are certain to be a key factor.

Finding the right foil for offspinner Nathan Lyon will be pivotal to the success of an Australian side missing frontline quicks Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood as well as Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Holland’s last domestic summer was derailed by a knee injury but the 31-year-old was the leading tweaker in the previous two Sheffield Shield seasons, and it could be telling that he was picked ahead of fellow left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.

Agar’s ability to play as an allrounder helped get him on the plane to Bangladesh for two Tests last year where he took seven wickets at 23.14, but his West Australian connection with Langer may not be enough to save his spot.

“I think everyone knows that there’s opportunities at the moment at the next level,” Holland said in Bangalore.

“Everyone’s worked really hard in the off-season to push for this tour and do well and see what happens after that.

“Mitch (Marsh) backed me in as a captain and I pretty much just sat at one end for most of the day, so it was good to get a lot of bowling under my belt. Hopefully I can read the conditions well on day four and take a few more wickets.”

Queensland paceman Michael Neser was the other standout bowler for Australia A, taking 4-61 from 20 overs.

Usman Khawaja, unbeaten on 16 alongside Travis Head (13), will look to back up his timely first-innings century when play resumes on Tuesday.

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