India faces a daunting task to come back in the Border Gavaskar series. The visitors will be turning their attention towards the boxing day test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with little a confidence. It will take a remarkable effort from India to retain the trophy since Australia is expected to go for the kill after handsomely winning the first test.
The Indian team was skittled to their lowest ever test total in the second innings at Adelaide Oval last week. They scored only 36 runs in the second innings after taking a considerable lead in the first innings. The frightening pace trio of Australia ran through the batting lineup with ease during the afternoon session of the third day.
From a team selection point of view, there are going to be wholesale changes for the Indian team. Virat Kohli went back to India this week to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, while Mohammed Shami is set to miss the series due to a fractured arm. Due to failures in the first test, Prithvi Shaw and Wriddhiman Saha are also likely to be benched for KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, while Shubman Gill will replace Kohli in the middle order.
Meanwhile, Australia is unlikely to make changes to the team as David Warner is likely to miss the second test due to injury. Joe Burns picked up form in the second innings of the first test by scoring a fluent fifty, so the opening woes seem to have reduced for Australia. There is no need to make changes to the lineup for Australia after resounding success in Adelaide.
Considering the pitch, MCG offers something for both bat and ball, so toss could be crucial for India. Winning the toss and batting first would give them a much better chance to get a positive result. After the departure of Kohli, India will need Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to step up and provide support to younger players in the batting lineup. The bowling lineup will be weaker after Shami’s injury, so the burden will be on Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin to take wickets.
Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were kept quiet at Adelaide, so they are expected to respond strongly in the boxing day test match. Tim Paine has been steadily improving his batting, so he will be the key player for Australia lower down the order. The pace trio of Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins will be a force to reckon with after ruthless display in Adelaide.
It is going to be a humungous challenge for the Indian team to bounce back in MCG, but this team has previously shown character to bounce back in overseas tours. However, this time they have to bounce back from the lowest point of the Indian test match history. It is going to be a fascinating and intriguing contest, but for now, Australia is the overwhelming favourite to make it 2-0.