After suffering a humiliating eight-wicket defeat in the first Test, India will look to bounce back when they face Australia in the second match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. India, who were folded for their lowest-ever Test score of 36 in the second innings of Adelaide day-nighter, will be without their mercurial skipper Virat Kohli. But the visitors know well enough that another defeat will surely end their chance to win back-to-back Test series Down Under. So, the onus is on India.
In Kohli's absence, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the team in their must-win game at Melbourne Cricket Ground. And the stand-in skipper is going to have a full plate. How Rahane handles the pressure will directly affect the team's morale and the fate of the series. It's a fact that Rahane has inherited a fractured team.
Besides Kohli's absence, the team will also miss the services of experienced pacer Mohammed Shami, who fractured his bowling forearm. Then there are openers issues with both Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal struggling against the Aussies pacers. And that's not all, even ever-reliable Wriddhiman Saha failed to impress with his glovework.
So, Rahane will have some massive decisions to make -- who comes in for Kohli, how to solve the opening woes...
For Australia, David Warner and Sean Abbott have been ruled out for the match, but the hosts will be more than comfortable to stick with the same XI.
Tim Paine played a captain's knock in the Adelaide and helped the Aussies scored crucial runs against a strong bowling attack in the first innings. And the bowlers! Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins overshadowed their pace spearhead Mitchell Starc, which will only make the left-armer more focussed and hungrier.
Match and telecast details:
Match: 2nd Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series during India's tour of Australia, 2020-21
Days: December 26 to 30, if the match lasts all five days
Timing: 5:00 AM IST/10:30 AM Local
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
TV Channels: SONY SIX, SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) and SONY TEN 1
Live Streaming: SonyLiv
Australia (unchanged): Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine(c & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
India: On the eve of the match, India announced their playing XI. As expected, Shubman Gill replaced Prithvi Shaw, while Mohammed Siraj came in for injured Shami. Fit-again Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant took the place of absent Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha respectively.
Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj.
3rd Test: Jan 07 to 11, 2021 - SCG, Sydney; 5:00 AM IST
4th Test: Jan 15 to 19, 2021 - The Gabba, Brisbane; 5:30 AM IST
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine