India’s Playing XI For Boxing Day Test against Australia

India Australia Test Match

Image: Hindustan Times

India announced the playing XI for the second test against Australia. The second test is starting on December 26 at Melbourne Cricket Ground. India recorded their lowest Test total in India vs Australia Ist Test. India faced the worst embarrassment after collapsing to a score of 36. India’s earlier lowest score was 42. That was against England in 1974. This is known as ‘Summer of 42.’ The Summer of 36 will replace the Summer of 42. Like Gavaskar, Virat Kohli will now have to carry this dark mark in his legacy. 

Josh Hazlewood and Patrick Cummins gave a great performance with high-quality bowling. The impact of their bowling will be visible in the upcoming three Tests.  The target of 90 runs was easy for the Australian team to chase without much fuss. Australia only lost Matthew Wade and Marnus Labhschagne in the Ist Test. Joe Burns scored a half-century as well.

Changes in Indian Team for Second Test Against Australia

Already in a seal position, the Indian team must bring out their best in the coming Test. Certain changes are made to the team. There are four changes to the team that played the Pink Ball Test at Adelaide Oval. Ravindra Jadeja makes a comeback to the boxing day test. His comeback to India’s playing XI is after clearing a fitness test on the 24th of December. 

Other changes are the inclusion of Shubhem Gill and Mohammad Siraj in the team. Shubhem Gill replaces Prithvi Shaw, and Mohammad Siraj replaces Mohammad Shami. Ravindra Jadeja is playing instead of Virat Kohli. Kohli went back to India for the birth of his first child. Rishabh Pant takes over the gloves from Wridhiman Saha and comes in at number sixth position. There are talks that Hanuma Vihari may bat at number four by retaining his place during all four innings of the first warm-up matches.

Image: Hindustan Times

Already trailing by 1-0 in the four-match series, India had to play hard to get back in the game Jadeja is likely to bat at No. 7. He went from sprinting to batting in the nets returning to full fitness. He is the busiest man in the Indian team in Melbourne with his bowling and batting skills. He spent a good half hour facing all comers with his left-arm spin alongside R. Ashwin and Vihari. Jadeja looked at his best during the 7-8 minute session that ended with him galloping back and forth for three virtual runs. His 2 physical conditioning coaches seemed equally pleased with his performance. 

With the loss of Kohli, the team hopes are upon the middle order of the line-up.

India’s chances are low with Mohammad Shami replaced by a debutant after suffering a fractured arm of Pat Cummins. India expects Pant to bring energy and intensity to the game. He was the last person to leave the Net after practising batting under the coach Ravi Shastri. Ravi Shastri didn’t get too involved with any technical discussions like the ones he had with Mayank Agarwal and  Rahul. Shastri called off the session with the Coach asking the wicket-keeper to stay on the crease as long as possible. 

Image: PTI

Gill is also giving his best as he prepares for his much-awaited debut while Shaw batted for a brief time under the batting coach Vikram Rathour. Footage analyst Hari Prasad and Shastri analyzed the footage of Shaw in the nets. Rathour and Shaw then studied the footage before returning to the net for a few more deliveries.

He has to work on a specific part of his technique. Rahul also had a few chats with Shastri. Australia was preparing quietly for Jadeja’s return. The Australian team under assistant coach Sridharan Sree Ram worked with the middle-order batsman in particular. This will be the third time Jadeja and Ashwin are playing a Test together outside the Subcontinent. The first and the second time was the 2014 Test series in Manchester and the 2016 Test series in Gros Islet.

India’s List of Predicted XI for The Second Test at MCG

1. Shubhem Gill: Shubhum Gill played better than Prithvi Shaw in the warm-up game. Gill gave a good performance in the limited-overs series in Australia. Since Shaw couldn’t grasp the game well in Adelaide, Gill gets the chance to replace Sha at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Gill’s extra second one while facing fast bowlers also adds to the confidence he can give the dressing room in testing times.

2. Mayank Agarwal: Though Mayank Agarwal struggled in the first series, he is likely to get another chance. He has the ability to put the team in a good spot if he can hold one end for two sessions.

3. Cheteshwar Pujara: Cheteshwar Pujara is upset over his dismissal for 4 in the 2nd innings of the first test match. He could be the key player and will be definitely working on his defence ahead of the MCG Test.

4. K L Rahul: He is the most promising player India had in 2020. He may get a chance at no.4 in the 2nd Test against Australia. Rahul must show that he can bat at any position in a Test match as he does in ODIs and T20Is.

5. Ajinkya Rahane: Ajinkya Rahane captains the Indian team in the absence of Virat Kohli. He has to put on a better batting performance than the one in Adelaide. However, the pressure on his shoulders is huge.

6. Ravindra Jadeja: Ravindra Jadeja replaces Hanuma Vihari who was not in the form in Adelaide. Jadeja can provide India with another regular bowling option. The player who was in great form before getting injured is likely to strengthen the fragile lower-order.

7. Ravichandran Ashwin: R Ashwin will remain in the team after his strong reply to the critics who questioned his ability to bowl in Australian conditions. He was the star of India’s bowling in Adelaide.

8. Umesh Yadav: Umesh Yadav plays very differently in limited-overs cricket and Tests he bowled well in the first innings in Adelaide and therefore has to keep the hopes that he can do the same at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

9. Rishab Pant: Wriddhiman Saha is a better wicket-keeper, but in Kohli’s absence, India wants to improve their batting line-up. So, Rishab Pant might replace Saha at MCG.

10. Navdeep Saini: Pacer Navdeep Saini will replace Mohammed Shami who is reportedly ruled out of the Test series.

11. Jasprit Bumrah: Jasprit Bumrah will lead the Indian pace bowling attack at MCG in the absence of Mohammed Shami and Ishant. The pressure to charge from the front and taking early wickets is on his shoulders.

ICC World Test Championship

The four-match series between India and Australia is a part of the ICC World Test Championship. The final match of the Championship will be at Lord’s cricket ground in June 2021. After winning the first Test, Australia has an upper-hand over the Indian Team. Australia now tops the World Test Championship team standings. The top two teams will play in the finals.

Australian Playing XI

Australian coach Justin Langer said that the Australian team would field an unchanged playing XI for the second Test. There won’t be any changes unless there is an injury concern before the second Test begins. The Australian team is looking forward to breaking their 6-year affliction of not regaining the Border- Gavaskar Trophy.

Australian Playing squad: Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon, Travis Head, Steve Smith, MatthewWade, Mitchael Starc, Cameron Green, Joe Burns, Marnus Labhschagne.

Pitch Conditions and Weather at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Producing sluggish and slow wickets has been a point of criticism at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the last couple of years. The pitch will be suitable for bowlers in the first row and might become a great batting floor. The first day of the Test Match might get bright sunshine. But, the weather on Sunday expects 70 percent of rain.