As India go into the second Test match, a chance of redemption will be up for grabs for this team under a new captain-Ajinkya Rahane. India lost the first Test quite badly and the odds of winning the series from here are stiff but nothing is impossible in the world of sports. Let’s take a look at the key battles expected to happen in MCG.
Ajinkya Rahane vs Nathan Lyon: While Rahane will be donning the Test captaincy hat just for the third time in his career, he is no stranger at all when it comes to test-match batting. There is no doubt, he can put the anchor down and fight through in case India have early hiccups. He will face a formidable foe in Nathan Lyon. Lyon can use the rough to turn the ball into Rahane who will be up against him with his solid defence and back-foot play.
Cheteshwar Pujara vs Pat Cummins: In Virat Kohli’s absence, Cheteshwar Pujara will have to be the wall that he usually is. He had some terrible time in Adelaide. He was dismissed cheaply in the second innings, but even in the first innings he struggled to score 43 runs which saw him edging to slips on a lot of occasions. Josh Hazlewood has a smooth orthodox action and is deadly with his swing. His ability to extract sharp bounce can put Pujara in trouble.
Steve Smith vs Ravi Ashwin: Steve Smith accounted for just one. Yes, the best Aussie batter of our times had a flop show in Adelaide. But if he gets his eye in he can make you pay. That’s why India’s Ravi Ahswin is the perfect bowler to counter him. Ashwin had taken four wickets in the first innings against Australia. Reason: His ability to bowl various lengths. In MCG, the pitch is going to be slow and low and Ashwin can be handy dealing with the elegant right-hander.
Marnus Labuschagne vs Jasprit Bumrah: Last time when Bumrah was at MCG, he created havoc among the Aussie batsman. His delivery to Shaun Marsh was an absolute ripper. He bowled a slower ball that dipped on him and left him trapped LBW. Bumrah was at the receiving end against Labuschagne in Adelaide. Labuschagne, who looked Steve Smith’s shadow, scored a sturdy 47 off 119 balls. He can be iffy at times initially and it’s here Bumrah had to dismiss him.