No Shami, no Kohli, no hope? A moment during Australia’s practice session on Wednesday revealed the monumental task the Indians face at the MCG on Boxing Day.
Indian captain expects India's fielding to improve
No wonder Steve Smith is smiling…
As Australia practised slips catching at the MCG on Wednesday – the first ball hurtled at superstar Steve Smith.
He cupped it and said to his teammates: “This is the first time I’ve had a red ball in my hand in 12 months.”
SECOND TEST AUSTRALIA v INDIA MCG, STARTS SATURDAY, 10.30AM
Boy, that’s a scary thought for an Indian bowling attack which has lost its glue in miserly right-armer Mohammed Shami.
India has two debutants in opening bowler (Mohammed Siraj) and opening batsman (Shubman Gill) as the eyes of the world lock on to a team that has just been rolled for 36 and farewelled Virat Kohli, the best batsman on the planet.
Already wobbly, Boxing Day is simply about who delivers the knockout punch.
AUSTRALIA: Matthew Wade, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (capt, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
INDIA: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravi Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.
IN: Shubman Gill (debut), Rishabh Pant, Ravi Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj (debut).
OUT: Prithvi Shaw, Wriddhiman Saha (both dropped), Virat Kohli (birth of child), Mohammed Shami (arm).
Saturday: Sunny. Max 27C.
Sunday: Late cool change with showers. Max 33C.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Max 19C.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny. Max 22C.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Max 23C.
Australia $1.35; India $5.50; Draw $7.50.
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* Don’t miss Brett Lee speak as part of the Dean Jones tribute during the tea break on day one.
* Watch every ball of the Australia-India series live with no ad-breaks during play on Fox Cricket and Kayo.
D-DAY LOOMS FOR SYDNEY TEST
WARNIE’S FAVOURITE BOXING DAY TEST MOMENTS
‘WE’LL DO IT WITHOUT VIRAT’: INDIA CAPTAIN
Virat Kohli’s influence on the Border-Gavaskar series is officially over with Ajinkya Rahane promising not to disturb India’s captain who has flown home for the birth of his first child.
Rahane profusely apologised to Kohli after running out the world’s best batsman when he looked to be on his way to a commanding century at Adelaide Oval.
“After the day’s play I obviously said sorry to him but he was all OK,” Rahane said.
“He was OK about it because we both understood the situation we were in. We were going really well at that point.
“Our partnership was really good. Such things happen in cricket, you’ve got to respect that and move forward.”
Kohli addressed the Indians at a team dinner before he jetted home to Mumbai.
While it would be tempting to continue picking Kohli’s brains for advice, Rahane said: “I don’t want to disturb him now because this time is really special.”
Rahane — who will captain India from gully at the MCG — has stepped straight into Kohli’s shoes by using his first press conference as stand-in captain to suggest Australia has form playing mind games.
“Australians are very good playing at mind games — and let them do that,” Rahane said.
“We are just focused on what we want to do as a unit and we will back ourselves.”
Rahane was asked by an Indian journalist: “Justin Langer said they’re glad the Indians are stressed. Are you really stressed?”
Langer was quoted on Thursday as saying: “If India are feeling any stress, I am glad they are.”
India axed opener Prithvi Shaw and gloveman Wriddhiman Saha while Kohli and Mohammed Shami (arm) were ruled out.
Debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj were called up for Boxing Day, along with wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and all-rounder Ravi Jadeja.
Pant sledged Tim Paine by calling him a “temporary captain” two years ago.
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