Rampant India and weaker-looking Australia will lock horns in the second Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Series at WACA in Perth on Friday (December 14). Before shedding light on the match preview of the second Test, the series has already generated captivating cricket with a closely-contested series opener at Adelaide.
Team India skipper Virat Kohli’s notched up their first win in Australia after ten years. India will take heart from the past and eye another good result at Perth after scripting history on the Australian soil.
On the other hand, Australia looked out of sorts in terms of batting. Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh and Travis Head will need to produce runs for Australia to help the reach parity in the series.
The surface at Optus Stadium in Perth will suit Australia’s style of play as it always known for its pace and bounce.
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara scoring runs with the bat in the opening game of the series has been a good sign for the visitors. The duo raised their game and chipped in with crucial runs to see India eke out a close win in Adelaide.
Certainly, the big guns in the batting lineup will need to replicate more of this at Perth to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
The opening thing has undoubtedly been Achilles heel for India on the overseas tours. With Prithvi Shaw ruled out due to a twisted ankle, Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul need to show responsibility and bat out the first session. It can be said that the opening batting duo eventually failed to make an impact in the opening game of the series.
India might be tempted to replace Ravichandran Ashwin to play an extra seamer for this game. The pitch at Perth will mostly suit the pace bowlers, but India might go for the aggressive approach and take a bold call for this game.
Over-reliance on one or two players in the batting lineup might lead to India’s downfall in this game. The trend has been witnessed in the previous overseas tours to South Africa and England.
The pace trio is certainly Australia’s big strength, and they need to come to the party in this game. Josh Hazlewood has looked off-colour with the ball while Mitchell Starc has struggled with inconsistency. A spicy pitch must be enough to help Australia find their inner mongrel.
Australia’s frail batting lineup has been a big worry. The likes of Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh will need to be consistent for Australia to stage a comeback in the series.
Australia will take heart from the previous record at Perth. The venue has proved to be a happy hunting ground for the hosts. The opportunity will be there for hometown hero Shaun Marsh to do something special with the bat.
In addition to, Marcus Harris also has played for Western Australia and might be determined to do well in front of his home crowd.
The hosts will really need to guard against being complacent as India looked a complete unit at the moment. The visitors bowling have been excellent and will put Australia under pressure in this game as well. So, Australia will need to play exceedingly well to upstage India in the second game.
Key Player Battles:
With Chesteshwar Pujara struggling to make his crease in time throughout 2018, on the other side, Team India skipper Virat Kohli would be eyeing to tackle Australian bowlers in their own den.
Virat Kohli vs Nathan Lyon:
As experienced off-spinner Nathan Lyon has settled with eight wickets in the first Test at Adelaide, Kohli is yet to find the rhythm. He scored 37 in the opening Test.
It’s going to be an exciting battle between both the players as Lyon dismissed him in the second innings on 34.
Rishabh Pant vs Pat Cummins:
Australian speedster Pat Cummins went wicket-less in the second innings after bagging two in the first essay. However, his battle against Pant would be altogether different.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Pant, who scored 25 in the first outing before registering another 28 in the second innings. He had a few words behind the stumps with Cummins. Interestingly, he was dismissed by Lyon on both occasions.
Josh Hazlewood vs Lokesh Rahul and Mitchell Starc vs Murali Vijay:
There is a similarity in the list. Josh Hazlewood dismissed KL Rahul twice, so did, Mitchell Starc with Murali Vijay. With plenty to be plugged in, all-four dismissal came in the form of catching.
It’s expected to be a bright sunny day in Perth with the temperature hovering around 35 degrees. Meanwhile, on December 16 afternoon showers are expected with temperature going down to 24-degree Celsius.
Overall, it’s going to a fantastic time for both the teams to give their best in Perth
The mantra has to be win toss and opt to bat first even though Australia has been somewhat hesitant to bat first at home.
Perth has something on an offer for Australia:
Perth has been a fortress for Australia; the hosts went on to win 25 Tests out of 44 games. Moreover, they had to face loss in 11 as eight ended in a draw. Interestingly, they’re going to wrestle against each other at the brand new stadium; Optus Ground on the basis of sponsorship.
Head-to-head record at Perth (old):
Both teams met on four occasions at this very venue with Australia winning three and India clinched a solitary game.
And for the first time, Test cricket is taking place at the newly-established stadium. However, it will also be the third overall international game to be played at the venue.
Predicted XI of both teams:
Australia playing XI:
Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Tim Paine(c/wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, and Josh Hazlewood
India playing XI:
Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli(c), Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant(wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma.
With the second Test of the ongoing four-match Test series beginning in next 14 hours, India as a unit has delivered the punch at Adelaide.
This time around, India as a team is equipped to tackle the tired-looking Australian pacers.
While looking at all the possibilities, India is likely to take the 2-0 lead against Australia. However, we can’t rule out the closely-fought encounter on a pacy and bouncy WACA surface.
*With inputs from Akhil Gupta