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O'Keefe, Cartwright set for SCG Test XI

AAP logoAAP 29/12/2016

Australia are set to play two spinners in the third Test against Pakistan in Sydney next week with Steve O'Keefe likely to be recalled and little-known allrounder Hilton Cartwright is closing in on his debut.

During lunch on the last day of the second Test at the MCG on Friday, Australia coach Darren Lehmann was asked about the make-up of the bowling attack for the final match of the series at the SCG starting on Tuesday.

"I think we probably would (include two spinners)," Lehmann told the Nine Network's The Cricket Show.

"We did last year. I think we will again. I think we'd have two spinners in our squad."

It's expected NSW left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe will be recalled to partner the out-of-sorts Nathan Lyon, the pair having teamed up in Australia's last Test at the SCG - a rain-ruined draw with the West Indies in January.

They were also Australia's spin twins in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy in July before O'Keefe tore his hamstring and missed the rest of the tour.

O'Keefe did not travel to Adelaide with the Sydney Sixers for their Saturday BBL clash, with the SCG Test squad expected to be announced later on Friday.

When making a call on the XI for the Sydney Test, selectors will no doubt bear in mind Australia's next Test assignment - an arduous four-Test series in India when they will almost certainly play at least two spinners.

Ian Chappell asked if playing two spinners at the SCG increased the likelihood of playing an allrounder given one of the quicks - probably Jackson Bird - would drop out of the XI.

"It probably has to if you want to take some load off the quicks and give the blokes a break at some stage," Lehmann said.

"Traditionally the wicket in Sydney deteriorates as the game goes on and reverse and spin plays a big part."

That opens the door for Cartwright to step up for his Test debut and bat at No.6 in place of Nic Maddinson, who has made an inauspicious start to his Test career with scores of 0, 1, 4 and 22.

West Australian Cartwright was a surprise inclusion in Australia's squad for the Boxing Day Test but selectors opted for a three-pronged pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Bird.

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