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Australia vs India Second Test Preview: Depleted visitors spur the hosts' chances
- Australia host India in Melbourne for the second Test starting on Saturday, Boxing Day
- Australia have won their last eight home Tests
- Australia have won six of their last nine Tests at this venue, losing only once
- India have lost their last three away Tests, their worst streak since 2014
- India have lost all four overseas Tests without Virat Kohli in the playing XI
Australia will look to build on their special win in Adelaide and make the most of Virat Kohli's absence (Getty Images)
Australia outplayed India and romped home to an eight-wicket win within three days in Adelaide. That massive confidence booster could play a huge role as the teams move to Melbourne for the ‘red ball’ portion of the Test series. The traditional ‘Boxing Day Test’ at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will be the second of the four-Test series.
Australia conceded a 53-run lead in the first innings in Adelaide as they folded out for 191 despite a splendid rear-guard 73* from captain Tim Paine. The bowlers turned the match on its head in the second innings as Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood combined to shut India out for 36 in the second innings.
The 90-run target was easily achieved for the loss of just two wickets, as opener Joe Burns got back to form with an unbeaten 51. Cummins (7), Hazelwood (6) and Mitchell Starc (4) combined for 17 of the 19 wickets fell and looked unplayable most times.
David Warner, who missed the first Test with a groin injury, is unlikely to be involved in the second Test. Will Pucovksi is also set to miss out due to his recovery from concussion leaving the openers Joe Burns and Matthew Wade favourites to walk out in Melbourne too.
India collapsed dramatically in the first hour on the third morning to a historic low 36/9 – Mohammed Shami retired hurt. That they were 62 ahead with just one wicket lost at the end of day two will remain as just a footnote.
Captain Virat Kohli has left the side on paternal leave which means Ajinkya Rahane will have to step up – both as their senior player and stand-in captain. Making matters worse is the injury to Shami which ruled him out of the Test series.
Prithvi Shaw aggregated just four runs in the first Test and is likely to be axed in favour of Shubman Gill. KL Rahul could slot in Kohli’s place, although there is a school of thought which puts Rahul as an opener and Gill at number four. The Indian team management is also reportedly eyeing a return for Ravindra Jadeja in place of Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant in place of Wriddhiman Saha. Shami’s absence could land a Test debut for Siraj Mohammed.
Australia vs India Head-to-Head
Australia improved their home record to 30-7 in 49 matches against India. At this venue, Australia have won eight of their 13 matches against India, losing three and drawing two. However, the hosts are without a win here against India since 2011, drawing one and losing the last match played against the ‘Men in Blue’ here in 2018.
Australia vs India Match Up
Australia retain a massive mental edge after the thumping win in Adelaide. Any hopes of an Indian bounce back will need exponential improvements. India will also be on the back foot considering the absence of their best player Virat Kohli and that of their second-best fast bowler Mohammed Shami. Australia’s record in Boxing Day Tests is formidable and they are expected to extend that.
Australia vs India Stats
- Australia have won their last eight home Tests.
- Australia have won six of their last nine Tests at the MCG, drawing two and losing only once.
- There have been only two draws for Australia in Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne since 1998 – winning 16 and losing four of 22 Tests.
- Steve Smith averages 113.50 in 12 innings at the MCG, which includes four 100+ scores and three 50+ scores.
- India have lost their last three away Tests, which is their worst such streak since losing five in a row in 2014.
- India have lost all four overseas Tests they played without Kohli in the playing XI since his debut.
Australia will be looking to continue with the momentum from Adelaide as a weakened India will look to regroup. It's a massive advantage to Australia at the moment and one that they are unlikely to relinquish.