The much-awaited boxing day test between Australia and India is set to be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, starting this Saturday.
The Aussies would be pumped up after their mind-blowing comeback made by them in the second innings, where the brilliant pace bowling of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bundled the visitors for mere 36 runs, marking the lowest score for India in tests ever.
The Indians after having a decent lead of 53 runs after managing to dismiss the Aussies for 191 in their first innings could not hold on and the hosts were given a target of 90 to win. The Aussies made easy work of it, winning the first test by 8 wickets and taking a 1-0 lead.
Men in Blue will be without the services of their best batsman Virat Kohli as he will be on paternity leave. The leadership role will now be the responsibility of his long-time deputy Ajinkya Rahane. With a defeat that will be talked about for the days to come, the management and skipper will be looking forward to bouncing right back and leveling the series which could restore some pride.
Can the reformed Indian side led by Ajinkya Rahane manage to level the series? Or will it be the Aussies who once again dominate the visitors and take a 2-0 lead?
Match Toss Time: 10:00 Local (04:30 IST)
Match Start Time: 10:30 Local (05:00 IST)
Match Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
The conditions are expected to be in favor of cricket throughout the course of the game with the only exception of rain on the second day, it is likely to interrupt a few hours of play. The temperature is likely to hover in the 20-degree range, the last three days are a bit on the lower side- around the 11-12 degree range. The Humidity is anticipated to be around the 45 percent mark.
The MCG pitch as we know is a flat track but the conditions could offer the pacers some movement with the new ball. The batsmen could find it tough to negotiate new ball but will find things easier later on. The spinners are expected to have a say in the last 3 days of the game and the bowling conditions are likely to improve once the pitch gets older.
The team winning the toss should be looking to bat first as the team batting in the 4th innings would find it very difficult to chase even a modest target.
The Aussies will once again be without the service of their key batsman- David Warner, who is still recovering from a groin injury. The team does look well balanced. Both the openers- Matthew Wade and Joe Burns showed great touch in the 4th innings and that would definitely boost the confidence of the Aussies going into the second test. With a stunning win over the Indians, the Australian management is likely to feature the same playing Xl.
India on the other side is likely to feature a revamped side. The departure of Virat Kohli means that Rahane will lead the side. The inexperienced opening pair of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal found it hard in the first to get going and that will clear the way for Shubman Gill.
The other change Team India would be looking forward to making is the replacement of Saha by Rishabh Pant. the 23-year old could add the required firepower in the middle-order and also does a wonderful job behind the stumps. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been deemed fit and he is likely to make the line-up in place of Hanuman Vihari.
Mohammad Shami has been ruled out of the Test series due to a fractured arm and he is likely to be replaced by 26-year old Mohammad Siraj.
Probable Playing Xl
Australia (Aus): 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 (Ind): Ajinkya Rahane (c), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Hanuman Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah
Aus vs Ind Fantasy Team
Tim Paine, KL Rahul, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Cameron Green, Jasprit Bumrah, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins
Captain Picks: Steve Smith (Aus), KL Rahul (Ind)
Vice-Captain Picks: Cheteshwar Pujara (Ind), Ravichandran Ashwin (Ind)
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