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Maddinson survives axe for Boxing Day Test

AAP logoAAP 24/12/2016 Michael Ramsey

Australia will field an unchanged XI for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan at the MCG, with struggling batsman Nic Maddinson spared the axe.

There had been strong speculation Maddinson could be dropped in favour of uncapped allrounder Hilton Cartwright, having scored a duck, one and four in his first two matches in the baggy green.

But Australian captain Steve Smith says selectors have opted to stick with the team that beat Pakistan in Brisbane, despite the heavy workload his pacemen shouldered during the first Test.

Pakistan's stubborn fourth-innings comeback at the Gabba meant Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood each bowled 56 overs for the match, while Jackson Bird bowled 45.

"We brought the allrounder into the squad because the bowlers had a pretty heavy workload but they've pulled up well and they're confident they can get through," Smith said on Sunday.

"Obviously (Nic) hasn't started the way he would have liked. I was really proud of him in the second innings in Brisbane to come out and do the thing for the team and try and score quick runs and have a crack.

"That's what we want from our team, to have unselfish players like that and I thought he did a good job to come out and do that."

With plenty of grass on the MCG wicket, Smith may be tempted to send his bowlers in first should he win the toss.

"It's a lot greener than I've seen it in the past couple of years," he said.

"The grass dies pretty quickly here and and the wicket goes white so we'll sum it up the morning and see what we want to do from there.

"I think the red ball out here is going to be a lot different to the pink ball. It will probably stay harder for a lot longer, so we'll be able to generate that bounce and carry that we couldn't do for long periods of time (in Brisbane)."

The decision to field an unchanged line-up in Melbourne signals a desire for continuity after a period of turmoil during Australia's 2-1 series loss to South Africa.

And with a tour of India on the horizon, Smith is confident Australia are back on track.

The captain was exemplary with the bat in Brisbane but faced criticism for his defensive field settings on day five and for electing not to enforce the follow-on when the hosts claimed a first-innings lead of 287 runs.

"People are open to criticise me all they like but in the end, we won the Test match so I'm happy with that," he said.

"You can always learn from different things. I'm really happy we won the Test match and that's five wins in a row for Australia (including one-day victories), so we're heading in the right direction."

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