A Boxing Day Test match at the MCG is always a special occasion and the clash between Australia and India promises more fireworks.
The hosts go into the second Test off the back of an incredible eight-wicket win in Adelaide, in which India capitulated having been in a strong position, and Australia are
10/31 to claim another victory.
The tourists batted first and made 244 before having Australia struggling at 111-7, but it all went horribly wrong from there for India.
India Must Respond After Humiliating 36 All Out
A number of mistakes in the field enabled the Aussies to reach 191 and then India,
4/1 to win in Melbourne, crashed to 36 all out in the second innings – the lowest Test total since 1955.
Australia were left just 90 to win and Tim Paine’s men managed to reach that total comfortably to seize the initiative in the four-Test series.
If confidence wasn’t low enough in the India camp following that heavy defeat, they now face playing the rest of the series without their skipper. Virat Kohli – who made 74 in the first innings in Adelaide – is returning home for the birth of his first child.
Kohli Absence a Blow for Tourists
Despite describing it as his country’s “worst batting performance”, Kohli believes the tourists will bounce back but his absence is sure to be a massive blow to India.
India did beat Australia 2-1 in the series two years ago, but this Australian team look determined to gain revenge and maintain their spot as the world’s top-ranked Test side.
David Warner missed the first Test with a groin injury and the opener looks set to sit out the second Test as well, which will see Joe Burns and Matthew Wade keep their places at the top of the order.
Smith Injury Scare
Former skipper Steve Smith –
9/4 to be Australia’s Top 1st Innings Batsman – appeared to suffer a back issue in the first Test win, but he insists it is “all good” after treatment.
The hosts are expected to name an unchanged side for the Melbourne clash, with all-rounder Cameron Green tipped to keep his place, having made his debut in Adelaide.
KL Rahul looks to be the favourite to replace the absent Kohli, although Shubman Gill is another option for the India selectors.
Australia have won six of the last nine Test matches in Melbourne, including a crushing 247-run win over New Zealand last year, although India did win the Boxing Day Test two years ago.
Pujara an MCG threat
Cheteshwar Pujara made a century in that 2018 Test and the 32-year-old is
9/4 to be India’s Top 1st Innings batsman.
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ripped through the Indian batting order in the second innings in Adelaide and both will fancy their chances of more wickets at the MCG.
Cummins took a five-for against the Black Caps last Christmas and can be backed at
9/1 to win the Man of the Match award in the second Test.