Bengaluru, Mar 3:
Stung by the humiliating defeat in the series-opener, Virat Kohli will face the toughest battle of his fledgling captaincy career when India take on a resurgent Australia in the second cricket Test starting here tomorrow.
It’s not often that an Indian cricket team goes into a home Test match trailing 0-1 and that’s exactly what makes the contest at the ‘Garden City’ even more enticing.
Kohli and Co. Are like cornered tigers after being hammered in their 333-run defeat against the Australians on a rank turner where unheralded Steve O’Keefe went home with figures of 12 for 70.
With their juggernaut coming to a grinding halt after 19 consecutive victories, it’s now time to pick up the pieces. And the team under Anil Kumble’s guidance will look to decipher the winning code on a Chinnaswamy track that promises to be slightly better.
The Indian batsmen will have to deal with Australia’s newest spin twins Nathan Lyon and O’Keefe while the pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood is also expected to ask probing questions.
Similarly, the Indians have not yet found a way to get Steve Smith out cheaply and the rival skipper, after his stupendous knock on a devilish pitch, will be itching to get one more.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would certainly like to forget Pune as it was one match where they hardly got anything right with fielding bloopers adding insult to injuries.
Another issue would be the effective usage of DRS, something India got terribly wrong in the first Test.
Kohli would certainly like to win the toss as it was one of the crucial factors in Pune. The fighter in him will aim to get even with the Aussie bowlers on whom he had feasted during team’s last Test tour Down Under.
Skipper Kohli will certainly want batsman Kohli to read Mitchell Starc’s reverse swing and O’Keefe’s arm balls better than last time.
The track is expected to last the distance but the fickle Bengaluru weather will be a concern as there is forecast of showers on Sunday — the second day of the match.
The last Test match against South Africa at this venue back in 2015, was a near wash-out after rain played spoilsport following the very first day.
While the Indian team’s positive aspect over the past year has been its bench strength and availability of multiple players at single position, it will be interesting to see what kind of team composition is preferred by the management for this particular game.
Kohli’s team combinations, after taking over from Dhoni, have been pretty fluid as no same combination has played in the 24 Tests that he has been at the helm.
India: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav
Australia: Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith (captain), Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Steve O’Keefe, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Swepson, Usman Khawaja, Jackson Bird, Ashton Agar.
Match Starts at 9:30 am. (PTI)