Australia roared back at Perth with a 146-run victory to square the series going into the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. After gaining the initial edge in the series, India was left to rue its selection decisions as Australia ran rampant on a lively Optus Stadium pitch.
In the aftermath of the Test, India was dealt a severe blow when their young prodigy, Prithvi Shaw was ruled out for the series. Mayank Agarwal was drafted in as was Hardik Pandya. However, only the former slotted straight into the eleven with the latter unfortunately missing out.
The other changes in the eleven include the dropping of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul whereas Umesh Yadav also found himself omitted after a substandard performance.
After an injury scare, Rohit Sharma returned to the fold with Jadeja too being included after some brainless arguments were made to justify his exclusion at Perth.
With the series deadlocked at 1-1, the Boxing Day Test has gained even more significance. If India can win at Melbourne, they would ensure that the Border-Gavaskar Trophy stays in India. However, if Australia makes it two wins on the spin, India could be left repenting upon its greatest chance for a Test series victory Down Under.
Thus, the stage is set for an enthralling affair at the MCG where two heavyweights of the game would cross swords.
Through this article, we would look at three things that India need to do in order to emerge victorious from the rubble that is to ensue at Melbourne.
#3 Get off to a decent start
India have toured South Africa, England and Australia this year and despite having competed better than teams of the yesteryear, they barely have the results to show for it.
While their bowling has stood up in the face of adversity, their famed batting has crumbled under pressure. If India is to address the issue come Melbourne, it surely has to start at the top of the order.
Rahul and Vijay have endured a wretched run over the past six months in red ball cricket. The latter was dropped mid-way in England and has now encountered the same fate after his twin failures at Adelaide and Perth.
As for the former, he definitely needs some time out of the game to iron out the flaws that have developed in his game over the past few months. Thus, the decision to drop them seems right.
While it may be doom and gloom for the above pair, the same can’t be said of Mayank Agarwal. The opener has scored truckloads of runs over the past couple of domestic seasons and his first national call-up was long overdue.
With Vihari expected to partner him at the top, India need to get off to a good start. Of the four innings so far, the only decent start the visitors got was in the second essay at Adelaide and one could argue that the opening stand eventually made the difference as India scraped through for a 31-run win.
The Kookaburra ball has a tendency to move prodigiously when it is new. However, once its threat is blunted, batsmen can take advantage. Unfortunately for India, they haven’t found themselves in a situation where they can capitalise.
The Indian think-tank has taken the bolder route of throwing Vihari and Agarwal into the deep end. The whole of India would hope that the duo passes the test with flying colours and sets the foundation for success.
After all, ‘a good start is half the job done’.