And, so here we go again! After having suffered a soul-crushing eight-wicket defeat in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval; one that saw them record their lowest-ever Test total, Team India will lock horns with Australia in the all-important Boxing Day Test at the colosseum of cricket, that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
India was all-out for a mere 36 in the second innings of the pink ball Test as Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood unleashed a near-perfect onslaught of hostile seam-bowling on the third afternoon.
And, while the record-low became the biggest talking point of the defeat, one must not forget that Team India- despite a collapse in the first innings and a plethora of dropped catches- largely dominated the first six sessions of the Test match, something that the team will do well to bear in mind as they look to plot a comeback in the series.
Mohammed Shami’s fractured hand was the biggest blow for India in the last Test. The champion fast bowler has now been ruled out for the rest of the series and Mohammed Siraj is set to make his debut in Melbourne. In the absence of Shami, the onus of leading the attack will fall back on Jasprit Bumrah- who claimed 9 wickets in his last outing at the MCG- and Umesh Yadav.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 25, 2020
India has handed Test debut to Shubman Gill, who replaces out-of-form Prithvi Shaw, while Ravindra Jadeja makes a return to the team after having recovered from a hamstring injury. With Virat Kohli no longer there to spearhead the batting, the onus will be on skipper Ajinkya Rahane and his deputy Cheteshwar Pujara- both of whom registered ducks in the second innings in Adelaide- to take charge of the unit.
India in Boxing Day Tests since 2000:
MCG 03: Lost by 9 wickets
Durban 06: Lost by 174 runs
MCG: Lost by 337 runs
Durban 10: WON by 87 runs
MCG 11: Lost by 122 runs
Durban 13: Lost by 10 wickets
MCG 14: DRAW
MCG 18: WON by 137 runs
MCG 20: ??
8 Tests | W/L/D- 2/5/1
— Yash Mittal ?? (@im_yash2307) December 25, 2020
India has got their backs firmly against the wall but they can take inspiration from the fact that the last time they played Australia in a Boxing Day Test, they trumped an albeit Steve Smith-sans unit by 137 runs.
Speaking of Steve Smith, the legendary cricketer will be looking to shrug off the rate failure he suffered against India in the last Test match when he registered a 29-ball 1. Smith enjoys batted at the ‘G. He has four hundred and three 50+ scores to his name in the seven Test he has played at the venue-
908 runs at an average of 113.50.
Australia didn’t announce their playing XI on the eve of the Test match but with David Warner ruled out due to injury, they are likely to stick with the same side that beat India by eight wickets at the Adelaide Oval.
Australia vs India, 2020: 2nd Test, Melbourne: Weather Forecast
A bright and sunny day awaits us in Melbourne on Saturday. According to the BBC weather report, the temperatures are expected to hover between 16-27 degrees Celsius, while the humidity is set to hover around 50 percent. Chances of rain- minimal.