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Australia retain their playing XI: The hosts are set to play the same team while the visitors ring in the changes

24 Dec 2020
Sridhar Bhamidi 24 Dec 2020
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  • David Warner is ruled out of the second Test
  • Coach Justin Langer hinted at continuing the same playing XI
  • India will be without Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami
  • The visitors are expected to make wholesale changes
Australia v India Second Test
Australia are expected to play the same XI while India could be forced to make changes (Getty Images)
Australian coach Justin Langer has all but confirmed that he would field an unchanged XI for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. Langer said that he’d have to be “pretty courageous” to change a team that ran out comprehensive eight-wicket winners in Adelaide.

Langer said that Australia would go with the same side at the MCG unless there are unexpected injuries over the coming two days. He said: “I'd be a pretty courageous man to change the XI for this Test match after the last one. At this stage, unless something happens over the next few days – and things can happen in the world we live in – we'll go in with the same XI, I'd say.”

David Warner was ruled out of the second Test as he continues his recovery from the groin injury that he suffered last month. That aside, the complications regarding the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and the corresponding movement restrictions.

That means the new opening pair of Matthew Wade and Joe Burns will get another chance to test their wares against a depleted Indian side. A crowd of up to 30,000 will be allowed at the MCG on Boxing Day, which will be the first time spectators have been allowed into the stadium since the Australian women’s team won the T20 World Cup final in March.

That is just one-third of the usual 90,000-strong MCG that greets the opponents for the traditional Boxing Day Test. However, the current pandemic situation means that something is better than nothing and Langer echoed the same thoughts: "30,000 is better than none. It wasn't that long ago, probably a few months ago, we wondered whether we would have a Boxing Day Test in Melbourne."

The audience will prove to be Australia’s 12th-man which makes India’s task that much more difficult. After a second-innings collapse for 36 which was a historical low, India will be pushed to their limits in their attempt to make a comeback.

With regular captain Virat Kohli out of the series on a paternity leave, stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane will have his hands full. Struggling opener Prithvi Shaw could be replaced by Shubman Gill, while KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant are also expected to come in the places of Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari and Wriddhiman Saha. Mohammed Shami’s injury leaves a chance for Mohammed Siraj to make his Test debut.

Australia (expected): Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon

India (expected): Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah