Matthew Kuhnemann on verge of debut after being flown to subcontinent, cricket news 2023

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Queensland spinner Matthew Kuhnemann is one step closer towards making his Test debut, earning a last-minute call-up to the Australian squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

The 26-year-old will fly to the subcontinent and join the Australian squad in Delhi ahead of the second Test against India, replacing leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who returns home for the birth of his first child.

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Kuhnemann, a left-arm orthodox bowler with 12 first-class matches under his belt, could receive a coveted baggy green next week if Australia plays three strike spinners for the second Test at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium, which gets underway on Friday.

However, that scenario would only be possible if Cameron Green, who missed the series opener in Nagpur due to injury, was fit and available to open the bowling alongside Test captain Pat Cummins.

Arun Jaitley Stadium has recently favoured spin bowling – tweakers have averaged 29.80 in Delhi since the start of 2013, while seamers have averaged 36.53 during that period.

Ashton Agar, also a left-arm orthodox spinner, is already in the Test squad, but there are fears over his form after reportedly struggling in the nets, according to News Corp.

The West Australian made his long-awaited Test return in the recent New Year’s fixture against South Africa but finished with 0-58 after an underwhelming performance with the ball.

India’s top order is packed with right-handed batters, and Agar has averaged 75.9 with a strike rate of 171.5 against right-handers in first-class cricket since the 2019/20 season.

Matthew Kuhnemann of Queensland. Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Kuhnemann, who previously represented Australia’s Under-19s team, made his international debut in Sri Lanka last year, snaring six wickets in four ODIs.

It followed a successful Sheffield Shield campaign for the crafty tweaker, who took 25 wickets at 31.88 in seven matches for Queensland – no spinner across the competition claimed more scalps during the 2021/22 season.

Earlier this summer, Kuhnemann took 4-78 against South Africa in a warm-up match at Allan Border Field, rolling through the Proteas top-order in Brisbane.

Cricket Australia also sent Kuhnemann to the MRF Academy in Chennai last year, joining a group of emerging batters and spinners to refine their craft in the subcontinent.

Unfortunately for the left-hander, chances to push for Test selection have been limited due to Australia’s green wickets. Swepson has been Queensland’s first-choice spinner, keeping Kuhnemann on the sidelines for most of this season’s Sheffield Shield.

Kuhnemann has only played two first-class matches this summer, claiming 1-31 against Tasmania in October before taking three wickets against Victoria at the MCG this week.

The second Test between India and Australia gets underway at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on Friday, with the first ball scheduled for 3pm AEDT.

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