Blown away by a fiery Australian bowling strike in the series opener in Adelaide and without the services of captain and star hitter Virat Kohli, India will face a huge challenge as they strive to bounce back in the second test in Melbourne. The visitors made four changes to their game XI with Shubman Gill and Mohmmed Siraj set to make their Test debuts. Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant also find a place while Wriddhiman Saha, Prithvi Shaw and Mohammed Shami (injured) are the victims of the Adelaide debacle. Despite leading the way after both teams completed their respective first innings at the end of Day 2 in Adelaide, India suffered a dramatic slump on Day 3 when they finished 36/9, their lowest Test total ever in history.
The breakdown of the at bat has raised serious questions and concerns, especially as Captain Virat Kohli returned to India on paternity leave. Australia, meanwhile, will be supported by their brilliant display with the pink ball and will name the same team that played in Adelaide.
As if succumbing to their lowest total in history wasn’t enough, India suffered a further setback in its second innings with the bat in Adelaide in the form of an injury to pacer Mohammed Shami.
India already entered the series without senior pacemaker Ishant Sharma, and Shami’s absence will be another huge blow to the attendees as they will have to line up a newcomer in his place.
However, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav’s performance in the first Test will be encouraging to replacement captain Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane also hopes that Ravichandran Ashwin can repeat the form he showed in Adelaide, picking up four wickets in the first innings.
Australian head coach Justin Langer said on Thursday that they will use the same team that beat India in Adelaide.
The day-night test in Adelaide saw bowlers make an impression, especially in India’s second innings as Josh Hazlewood picked five and Pat Cummins took four. However, Australia also hopes that their star hitters will take shape, with Steve Smith failing in the first innings.
Marnus Labuschagne scored a scratchy 47, but not before being dropped more than once.
David Warner has been banned from the Boxing Day match, with Langer saying he had “fingers crossed” for the left-hander’s return in the third test.
Opener Joe Burns was under the scanner and got into the series, but a quick half century in the fourth innings calmed some doubts about him.
Tim Paine also played a crucial knockout for Australia, with his unbeaten 73 helping Australia post a decent score in the first innings, even when most of his teammates fell cheap. In the end, he was awarded the Man of the Match trophy, despite the bowlers’ display that followed his knock.
While India recorded their first-ever Boxing Day win against Australia on their last tour Down Under, Australia will try to pile on the misery for the visitors and take an unbeatable lead in the series.
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