Forgotten Test spinner Xavier Doherty could become Australia's prime striker in India after using strong form in limited-overs cricket to force his way on to the tour, starting later this month.
Two years after he had a dire experience in his two Ashes Tests, and despite a first-class record for Tasmania this summer that has seen him claim just two wickets at 80, the 30-year-old Doherty is poised to play a major role in India.
Four spinners were named in a 17-man squad, with Nathan Lyon an automatic selection, while part-timers Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith were included for experience and to offer an all-round option if Australia decided to play only four front-line bowlers.
WA's Michael Beer would have been selected and was likely to have played a major role in the Test team until suffering a shoulder injury last month. He is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks. The need for numerous potential bowling combinations prompted national selector John Inverarity to name a squad which includes 10 pace and spin options.
All-rounder Moises Henriques was picked for his maiden Test tour, while James Pattinson has recovered from a side tear and proved his fitness with a ferocious net session at the WACA Ground yesterday when he struck captain Michael Clarke and threatened Matthew Wade.
Inverarity confirmed that Australia would attempt to replicate England's recent strategy in using off-spinner Graeme Swann and left-armer Monty Panesar to underpin a successful Test series in India.
"We're certainly looking for a right-arm finger spinner and a left-arm finger spinner," he said.
"Xavier has been bowling very well lately. The four contenders were Jon Holland, Michael Beer, Xavier Doherty and Stephen O'Keefe, but of course two of those are injured, and we preferred Doherty to O'Keefe.
"The history of India is that finger spinners are of great importance. We have Nathan Lyon as our leading off-spinner, Xavier Doherty as our leading slow left-arm, and back-up from Glenn Maxwell, who's been bowling well lately.
"And Steve Smith's leg spin could be useful, although he hasn't been bowling a great deal lately."
Smith has bowled just 60.5 first-class overs in the past year for three wickets at 79.67.
"It is a large squad but we felt we needed that for flexibility," Inverarity said. "One of the options is to play two pace bowlers, two leading spinners and then a medium-fast all-rounder in Moises Henriques.
"Another alternative is to play three pace bowlers, our leading spinner, whether that be Xavier Doherty or Nathan Lyon, and then have the back-up of the all-rounder with Glenn Maxwell. Of course we could go with just four bowlers and no all-rounder, but the thinking is we'll need more than four bowlers.
"It's all been very carefully thought through."
Usman Khawaja has been picked and is likely to rejoin the top order, while Shane Watson will return to action and place pressure on Ed Cowan to retain his opening position.
A broken thumb will restrict David Warner's preparation, but he is expected to be fit to play in the first Test in Chennai in three weeks.
Several players, including Pattinson, Lyon, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird, will travel to India next week for extra net sessions and to acclimatise to Indian conditions.
- SQUAD *
Michael Clarke (capt), Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Xavier Doherty, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.