Australia head coach Justin Langer recently admitted that the home side will have an advantage going into the Boxing Day Test starting December 26. India skipper Virat Kohli and fast bowler Mohammed Shami will be unavailable for the remainder of the four-match Test series.
While Kohli flew back to India to attend the birth of his first child, Shami suffered a fracture after copping a Pat Cummins bouncer to his arm in the second innings of the first Test in Adelaide. These two developments came in addition to the morale-sapping 8-wicket defeat, which included India’s lowest Test total of 36.
In a media interaction on Thursday, Justin Langer acknowledged the dual blow to India and how it would help the Aussies start the game on the front foot. The 50-year-old stressed the need to keep trusting the processes that helped them rise to No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings.
“Virat Kohli is one of the all-time great players and Shami, I think, is a real glue for the Indian bowling attack, because he’s so miserly. He’s very, very skilful...So of course it gives us an advantage. But we just know we have to keep working hard in all the processes we’ve been talking about for sometime," Justin Langer reasoned.
“We know we have to start strongly on Day 1, we know we need to keep the pressure on Rahane if he is the new captain. So our processes don’t change. But when you take the best players out any cricket team, then of course it weakens them, that is just reality, and it gives us an advantage,” Justin Langer continued.
‘We’ll go in with the same XI,’ says Justin Langer
Australia put up a near-complete performance in the day-night Test. If at all a change becomes imperative, it would be at the top of the order.
But David Warner’s failure to attain full fitness from the groin injury he suffered in the second ODI means the hosts will continue to open the innings with Joe Burns and Matthew Wade. Justin Langer confirmed the same.
“I’d be a pretty courageous man to change the XI for this Test match after the last one. So at this stage, unless something happens over the next few days, and it can happen in the world we live in, we’ll go in with the same XI, I would say,” Justin Langer, who scored 7,696 runs at an average of 44.74 in 105 Tests, stated.
Middle-order mainstay Ajinkya Rahane will take charge of the Indian team in Virat Kohli’s absence. It might be difficult, but it surely won't be impossible for the visitors to get back to winning ways in the remaining three Tests in Melbourne (Dec 26-30), Sydney (Jan 7-11) and Brisbane (Jan 15-19).