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Harris out to build on nervous MCG start

Marcus Harris looked nervous and unconvincing in the last hour of play on Boxing Day.

But unlike 10 English batsmen and his opening partner David Warner, the embattled Australian has survived.

The left-hander will resume arguably the most important innings of his career on day two of the third Test at the MCG, aiming to repay the enormous faith that the selectors have placed in him.

Harris has made 20, still three runs shy of his highest score so far in this series.

He edged the last ball of the day off Ben Stokes through the slips for four.

Harris will have gone to bed knowing the English will come hard at him and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon on Monday morning.

Australia are 1-61 in reply to England’s first innings of 185 and the unusually green MCG pitch is offering plenty for the bowlers.

“We’re also bowling on the same pitch that they bowled on,” England’s Jonny Bairstow said.

“We turn up again in the morning. We’ve seen the pitch offer plenty throughout the day and … we’ve got one end that’s potentially open with the nightwatchman.

“We look to put pressure on Harris and the nightwatchman, to get some early inroads.”

As is his habit, Warner took the lead at the start of the Australian first innings.

He’d had made 38 from 42 balls before Jimmy Anderson made the crucial breakthrough, having him caught by Zac Crawley in the gully.

After Harris only managed three and 23 in Adelaide’s second Test, he looked unlikely to play at home ground on Boxing Day.

But coach Justin Langer and the selectors have stuck with Harris in the hope that they can finally translate solid Sheffield Shield form into consistent Test runs.

Day two will reveal plenty about whether that faith is justified.

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