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Scott Bailey

Australia eye India prep on turning SCG

Turning conditions could boost the chances of Ashton Agar playing his first Test in five years. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Australia will treat the SCG Test as the best possible preparation for India as they weigh up playing two spinners on a dry wicket expected to aid turn and reverse swing.

Captain Pat Cummins refused to reveal his team on Tuesday for the third and final Test against South Africa, with the series already wrapped up at 2-0.

Players and ground staff are expecting a throwback to the spinning SCG of old, with Mitchell Starc and fellow quick Cameron Green already out through injury.

The turning conditions are likely to boost Ashton Agar's hopes of taking one of those spots, with the left-arm finger spinner a strong chance to partner Nathan Lyon.

Agar has not appeared in a Test since September 2017, but would likely have played in Sri Lanka last year before a side injury and is now back as Australia's No.2 spinner.

Working in his favour is the fact Australia expect similar conditions to the only Sheffield Shield match played at the SCG this summer, where 23 wickets fell to spin in three days.

Whether Agar is one of four or five frontline bowlers depends on if Australia opt to play three quicks or revive Matt Renshaw's Test career and bat him at No.6.

Renshaw too has not played a Test since 2018, but his recent Shield form had already left him on the precipice of a potential return in India next month.

Regardless, Australia are looking forward to conditions similar to next month's four-Test tour in India, where they have not won a series since 2004.

"It's a huge connection to India," Cummins said of the SCG.

"Fast bowling and reverse swing is going to come into it, which we can expect in India.

"(We'll) probably get more spin overs here, our batters are probably going to face more spin here as well.

"Even personally, captaining here might be a little different to the last few Test matches. So it's a really good prep."

The SCG conditions mean speedster Lance Morris is unlikely to debut, with Cummins quipping on Tuesday the SCG wicket was nothing like the pace-friendly WACA.

One option Australia could pursue would be to play five bowlers and bat Alex Carey at No.6, allowing room for both Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland.

However if Australia opt to strengthen their batting with Renshaw at No.6 and go with only four bowlers, the fit-again Hazlewood and Boland would face a squeeze into one spot.

Cummins said he would not be concerned about going in with four bowlers given Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne can both offer assistance.

"We'd be confident either way," he said.

"I feel really fresh. I've only played three Test matches and think we've averaged mid 20 overs (each) for the Tests.

"I'm fresh as I'm ever going to be for a fifth Test match. I'm not playing Big Bash so I get three weeks off after this."

Australia were given a late scare on Tuesday when Steve Smith was struck painfully on the glove facing throwdowns in the SCG nets but he was able to resume batting.

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