36 all out! It will take a long time to erase the memory of the second innings from the Adelaide Oval where India’s batting sunk to an all-time low. Instead of trying to forget the nightmare India need to feel the pain and play with that hurt to come up with an inspiring performance in the second Test - the all important Boxing Day Test at the iconic MCG!
It is, of course, easier said than done. India will be without their captain and premier batsman - Virat Kohli. Kohli has a great record in Australia - the best for any Indian batsman in their history and is almost equal to half the side’s batting in tough overseas conditions. Then the injury to Mohammed Shami - their premier strike bowler means that India’s fast bowling resources are further depleted (they were already without an in-form Ishant Sharma).
While KL Rahul and Mohammed Siraj are expected to come in for Kohli and Shami, three more changes are possible in the XI. Shubman Gill is expected to replace an out of form Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant is likely to come in for Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja might be selected as the all-rounder instead of Hanuma Vihari. The last exchange is the least likely though as India has always gone in with a 6 + 1 + 4 formation overseas but India has a different man at the helm for the remainder of the series. Also, looking at Jadeja’s form across formats he may be better than Vihari at number 6 and will also add to the bowling options apart from being a livewire on the field.
India needs to draw inspiration from their last tour Down Under. It was at the MCG where the side took a 2-1 lead in the series which turned out to be the final scoreline in 2018-19 - India’s first series victory in Australia!
Ajinkya Rahane, the stand in captain - needs to lead from the front and deliver in the absence of Kohli. Rahane last got a hundred in SENA at the MCG in 2014 and since then apart from 81 at Nottingham and 70 in Adelaide in 2018, there has been nothing really to write home about.
The bowling will be heavily dependent on Jasprit Bumrah. His 6-33 was instrumental in routing Australia for 151 in the first innings at the MCG in 2018 but he will need support from Umesh Yadav and R Ashwin.
Australia are likely to go with an unchanged XI into the Boxing Day Test. David Warner is still not fit which means the Matthew Wade-Joe Burns combination gets another chance at the top of the order. Number 3 and 4 - Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith will be the two key batsmen for Australia. The latter missed out in the first innings in Adelaide and it is not too often that Smith fails in two consecutive Tests - beware India!
The three fast bowlers - Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood - ecstatic after their performance in Adelaide - will again be the trump cards for Australia in Melbourne. In particular, Cummins - regarded as the best Test bowler in the world - has a great record at the historic venue. He has picked 18 wickets in just 3 Tests at 16.16 a piece with two five-wickets in an innings.
WHEN: 26th December, 5:00 am IST
WHERE: Melbourne, Australia
LIVE STREAMING: SonyLIV
India Team News
India may make as many as 5 changes to the XI that played in Adelaide. Gill for Shaw, Rahul for Kohli and Siraj for Shami are almost certain.
Possible Playing XI: Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant(wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Umesh Yadav
Australia Team News
Justin Langer has suggested that Australia in all likelihood will field the same XI.
Possible Playing XI: Matthew Wade, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine(captain/wk), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood
Recent Head-to-Head: (Last 5 matches)
It is 2-2 in the last 5 Tests between the two teams.
Australia Won by 8 Wickets
India Won by 137 Runs
Australia Won by 146 Runs
India Won by 31 Runs
To watch out for
Steven Smith did not get many in Adelaide and will be raring to go at the MCG. He has a great record against India with an aggregate of 1431 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 79.5 including 7 hundreds.
India: Really hurts. Probably didn’t have enough intent in the batting today. It’s something that needs to be reflected and learnt from: Indian captain, Virat Kohli after his team’s loss in the opener at Adelaide.
Australia: Ready to go from ball one makes a lot of difference, can go wrong if you take two three balls to warm up. That one boundary early on for the batsman can make a difference. The wicket quickened up definitely. We bowled a touch fuller, gave the ball air to swing and got the results: Josh Hazlewood whose magical spell routed India for 36 in the second innings.