Team India suffered a heavy 146-run loss at the Optus Perth Stadium in Perth in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as Australia came back into the series in a strong manner, after losing the first Test in Adelaide and equalized the series 1-1.
After the heavy loss in Perth, it became apparently clear that India had fallen into the trap of playing four quicks on a green looking strip, as Australian spinner Nathan Lyon won the Man of the match for his 8 wickets in the match. India sorely missed a spinner as the ball turned and bounced and even Vihari was looking a threat despite being a part-time spinner.
One more glaring observation was that the Indian batting lineup was without a head and a tail, as the openers were disposed of in quick time, while the tailenders didn’t waste any time in the middle with the bat. Meanwhile, the Australian tailenders contributed big time to their cause and added valuable runs.
The Indian team management also shared some sad news as it was confirmed that the teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw will not be taking part in the Test series and will fly back home. Rohit Sharma had also injured his back, while R Ashwin showed signs of getting better from his side strain.
Mayank Agarwal was called as a replacement for Prithvi and that would mean some changes in playing XI for the Melbourne Boxing day Test.
Given that both openers KL Rahul and M Vijay have failed to make any sort of impact with the bat and have failed to do their job of playing out the first 15 overs; it is almost necessary to sack either one or both of them for the remaining two Tests and send them back to play domestic cricket and regain form and confidence.
This might mean Mayank Agarwal may get to finally debut for India in Tests and in dire needs, Team India might need to ask either Cheteshwar Pujara to open or bring in Parthiv Patel to do the job in a temporary manner. However, seeing their experiences, both have opened for India many times and have excelled, but the presence of Rishabh Pant in the team and his batting potential may make the management go with Pujara opening.
However, the team management also has the good news of a fit Hardik Pandya available for the remaining two Tests and this means India team will be able to play 5 bowlers with Vihari as a part-timer. Another big thing for Team India will be a fit R Ashwin raring to go at MCG and his batting abilities will just add to the Indian team’s quest for a series win in Australia.
Ravindra Jadeja will be on standby if Ashwin fails to make the required fitness for the MCG Test and Jadeja will be equally impactful.
The Indian fast bowlers in Shami, Bumrah, and Ishant have been so good with the ball in removing the top and middle order, that we have forgotten their difficulties in removing the tail, which has actually hurt Indian team. When compared to Indian tailenders, Australian tail has wagged profusely and has helped them recover enormously.
However, it remains to be seen if the bowling coach has worked with the bowlers in formulating a plan to remove the tail easily and efficiently, for cheap.
Hopefully, the Indian team management gets their combination correct, as a win in MCG will be a confident booster for the Indian team in achieving a long dream of winning the series down under.
COC Team India XI for Melbourne Test match:
Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin*, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
*(if Ashwin remains unfit, Ravindra Jadeja comes in)