The incumbent Test opener has just 61 runs in eight innings this season
Joe Burns will enter the final day of the Australia A match against the Indians at the SCG knowing it could be make or break his hopes of not having his Test place snatched away from him at the last moment.
Chris Rogers, part of the Australia A coaching staff for the matches against the Indians, admitted Burns and Marcus Harris will have been relieved not to have faced the new ball under lights on the second evening, but at some point on the last day they will have to combat Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami again.
The situation is particularly acute for Burns who has just 61 runs in eight innings this season and will start the second innings on a pair after falling to Bumrah on the first day. As it stands he remains in the Test squad for Adelaide, but another failure in Sydney will leave the selectors with a big decision to make.
“There is some pressure on him, no doubt,” Rogers said. “He’s not stupid. So he has to make the most of this opportunity, that’s pretty important, and then it’s up to the selectors.”
Rogers encouraged Burns, who has been backed by the selectors, captain, coach and team-mates during a lean start to the season, to cut out the noise surrounding his position. He is the senior opener in the absence of David Warner, who may also struggle to be fit for the second Test in Melbourne, while Harris has recalled after Will Pucovski was ruled out with concussion.
“From my point of view, you can get to this point where you’re just putting so much pressure on yourself,” Rogers said. “You think you’re doing everything you can and it just doesn’t seem to be going your way.
“You make one little mistake and all of a sudden you’re back sitting in the pavilion. A lot of the time it’s just about letting go, what will be will be and just go out and do your processes, do your routines and just try and stay in the moment and watch the ball as I know our Australian coach says.
“So it’s a pretty simple message. There’s probably a lot of noise in their heads at the moment but the best thing they can do is just go out and worry about the next ball.”
The Indians were far enough in front that they could have declared and put Australia’s potential Test opening pair back in against the pink ball. Rogers was a little surprised they did not take the chance to ramp up the pressure, but also understood what they were aiming to get out of the match.
“They’re probably pretty relieved they didn’t get stuck under lights there,” he said. “That would have been a challenging little period.
“They [India] are looking to get different things out of the game and batting under lights was probably gold for them as well, the experience they get.
“Maybe on another day they might have thought ‘we’ll declare and have a crack at two potential opening batsmen for Australia in challenging conditions. But that was their decision.
“But I know as an opening batsman I definitely would not have liked to be out there batting tonight.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo