The Boxing-Day Test will be a ‘Test’ of Team India’s character as they look to win in Melbourne and draw level in the series. India will be without their regular skipper Virat Kohli as Ajinkya Rahane will step in to lead the side. He will also bat at number four in Kohli’s absence. After their abberation in Adelaide, it will be interesting to see if and how can they bounce back in the series. Meanwhile, gaining confidence from their win in the first test, Australia have already said that they will field an unchanged XI at MCG. More about the Boxing-Day Test Preview in detail below.
Test of Character For Team India
The BCCI chief selector has already said that they will bring a number of changes in the second test match in Melbourne. However, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. Is Shubman Gill going to open, will KL Rahul bat at number four, will India go in with two spinners, who among Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha is going to play. India’s wobble with the bat in Adelaide has exposed the weakness in their batting line-up and the over-dependence on Virat Kohli. The bowling line-up too seems messy after Mohammed Shami’s exit from the test series. Cricket experts have come up with several suggestions on what should India’s ideal playing XI be in Melbourne. However, the personnel available and their current form leaves a lot to be desired.
As per reports, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill are almost certain to play. India needs a good start from their openers after they failed in the first test. The team management will thus pick the best XI suited for the conditions in Melbourne. Mohammad Siraj is in line for his Test debut.
Australia, on the other hand, are confident after their convincing victory. Tim Paine was full of praise for the way his team played in the first game. Australia definitely have the edge heading into the first test. Also as per their coach Justin Langer, will Kohli missing from the rest of the test series, Australia surely have an advantage over their opponents.
Their batting line-up seems settled with Joe Burns getting runs in the first test. David Warner will, unfortunately, miss the second test as well, however, Matthew Wade is a gutsy player at the top of the order. Steve Smith would like to get back to scoring runs after missing in the first test. He along with Marnus Labuschgane and Travis Head forms a strong middle order. The presence of Tim Paine at number seven is a blessing for his side. Paine ended up as the man of the Match for his unbeaten 73* in the first innings and would keep the form going.
Bowling wise, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood form a formidable trio. Nathan Lyon as the specialist spinner makes it a good bowling group altogether. Head and Smith can roll their arms if required as well.
Head to Head: Australia vs India in Tests
Out of 99 test matches played between the two teams since 1947, Australia have won 49 games while India have won 28. While 27 of the matches have ended in draws. The latest win for the Aussies was the first test match in Adelaide.
Pitch & Weather Conditions For Boxing-Day Test
The pitch is expected to be a good one for batting. While the initial phase against the new ball would be tough, the batsmen should feel at ease in the middle once they get themselves set. Spinners will come into play once the match carries on.
Squads For Boxing-Day Test
Tim Paine (C), Joe Burns, Cameron Green, Will Pucovski, Steven Smith, David Warner, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Moises Henriques, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Sean Abbott, James Pattinson, Mitchell Swepson
Ajinkya Rahane (C), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj