Rahane-led India take on Australia at MCG
The red-ball cricket is all set to resume as India take on Australia in the second Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The last time both teams featured in a Boxing Day Test match, the visitors had the last laugh. However, after a crushing defeat at the Adelaide Oval, India won't be quite high in confidence.
Currently, in the ICC World Test Championship, Australia leads the points table followed by India at the second position. They will be looking to get going immediately under captain Ajinkya Rahane.
We take you through some of the talking points ahead of the Boxing Day Test:
No Kohli, Rohit for India
With Virat Kohli returning home for paternity leave, the Indian batting order will be left with a huge void. He was the only Indian batsman to score a half-century in the Pink-Ball Test.
On the other hand, Rohit Sharma is currently in quarantine which makes him eligible for selection only after the second Test. It will be interesting to see how Team India respond without two of their heavyweights.
David Warner to miss the second Test
The hosts will continue to be without David Warner at the top order. The southpaw is still recovering from the groin injury that kept him out of the Pink-Ball Test as well.
While Australia won at Adelaide, their batting order failed to cross 200 runs in the first innings. Also with India having a strong bowling lineup, they will need to put their best foot going forward.
It has been confirmed that the groin injury will keep star opener, David Warner, out of the Boxing Day Test as well 🤕— ICC (@ICC) December 23, 2020
Will Australia stick with Matthew Wade and Joe Burns at the top of the order in Warner's absence? 🧐#AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/NT2Us0xbDe
Steve Smith, Travis Head enjoy a good track record
Steve Smith has an aggregate of 908 runs at MCG which includes four centuries and three fifties. He had registered a supreme knock of 194 against India back in 2014 during the Boxing Day Test match at the same ground.
In Australia's previous Boxing Day Test encounter against New Zealand in 2019, Travis Head stood out with a century. His captain Tim Paine, Marnus Labuschagne, and Smith also scored half-centuries. Amongst the bowlers, Pat Cummins got a five-wicket haul to his name.
Shami ruled out of Australian tour
Mohammed Shami suffered a wrist fracture after being struck on the elbow by a short ball from Pat Cummins. The right-arm pacer has been a vital cog in the wheel and his absence is likely to hurt India.
Shami picked 16 wickets in the previous tour Down Under back in 2018. Mohammed Siraj has been picked as replacement and gets to play his maiden Test match at MCG. India has also gone ahead with Ravindra Jadeja to give them an extra bowling option alongside Ravichandran Ashwin.
Gill, Pant get a chance
Following a shambolic batting performance at the Adelaide Oval which saw the visitors being reduced to their lowest score in Test cricket and some forced exclusions, the management has made a number of changes.
Rishabh Pant got the nod over Wriddhiman Saha. The youngster scored a century in the practice game at Sydney. Shubman Gill will also be making his Test debut at MCG.
Good memories of Boxing Day Test
The last time India played at the MCG, they won the match by 137 runs. Cheteshwar Pujara had scored a magnificent ton while Mayank Agarwal also registered 76 and 42 in his two outings.
Jasprit Bumrah bowled like a dream as he ran through Australia's batting line-up to finish with 6/33. He even won the Man of the Match award. For the hosts, Pat Cummins was the only saving grace, picking a six-wicket haul and then scoring 63 with the bat.