Australia vs India: Virat Kohli and Co's pink ball report card

The Indian XI comprises batsmen with pink ball hundreds and a wicketkeeper in Wriddhiman Saha whose superman instincts escalates under lights.

Virat Kohli plays a shot during India's first pink-ball Test match against Bangladesh.   -  K.R. Deepak

India made its pink ball debut a year ago against an inexperienced Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The fast bowlers ran through the opponent in both the innings, and a Virat Kohli hundred was enough to not bat again.

But the setting is slightly different this time around.

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Though India has a potent bowling attack to tackle the pink ball, the Australians have more experience, specially at home. It has won all the seven day-night Tests it played.

The picturesque Adelaide Oval with 27,000 spectators — 50 per cent of the capacity to keep COVID-19 infections on check — will throw  a fresh challenge against the likes of pink ball stalwarts Mitchell Starc (42 wickets in seven games) and Josh Hazlewood (26 wickets in six games).

India XI

Prithvi Shaw: The incumbent opener, who missed out on the 2018-19 series due to an injury, has earned a chance to cement his place in the playing XI. He was part of a domestic pink ball game in Duleep Trophy 2017-18 where he scored 154 and 31 for India Red. The only day-night game he has played since then was the tour match in Sydney with scores of 40 and 3.

Mayank Agarwal: Agarwal, who made his debut in the Boxing Day Test in the last Australia tour, has a fair idea how the pink ball behaves. The Karnataka right-hander was part of the victorious India Blue in the Duleep Trophy in 2016-17 where he registered four fifties and a hundred. However, he fell for 14 against Bangladesh last year. The second innings half-century, 61 off 120, in the tour game will hold him in good stead.

Chesteshwar Pujara: Pujara scored 521 runs in the victorious last tour. Trust him to start on a high as he knows the pink ball well. The India No. 3 has a double century, 256 not out, and a century, 166 under lights in Duleep Trophy. He scored a fluent 55 against Bangladesh last year.

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Virat Kohli (c): The Indian captain was not part of the domestic pink ball cricket clan. His first-ever outing was against Bangladesh and he adapted quickly to score 136 off 194 balls with eight boundaries.

Ajinkya Rahane: Vice-captain Rahane also made his pink ball debut against Bangladesh scoring a handsome 51 off 69 balls. He scored a fighting 38 in the tour game after falling for 4 in the first innings.

Hanuma Vihari: Vihari missed out against Bangladesh but he, too, comes with a promising pink ball record. He scored a hundred in the only game he played for India Red in the Duleep Trophy. And in the tour match in Sydney, he was not out on 104 in the second innings.

Wriddhiman Saha (wk): India’s best wicketkeeper, Saha, was on his toes against Bangladesh last year. The seam bowlers kept him busy as he flew around to collect four catches. With the bat, he was unbeaten on 17. Before the international fixture, the superman stumper was part of the hyperlocal CAB Super League fixture for Mohun Bagan. He scored 33 and 0, and claimed a catch in that game.

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Ravichandran Ashwin: Even Ashwin is just one-Test-old in the pink ball format but he didn’t get to bowl enough on the green strip at Eden Gardens. He got only five overs in the second innings to go for 19 without a wicket. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s 28 wickets in day-night cricket will give him confidence.

Umesh Yadav: On his fourth Australia tour, Yadav is perhaps the best workhorse replacement for Ishant Sharma. And not to forget, he picked up a five-for against Bangladesh on pink ball debut last year. Overall, he claimed eight wickets in two innings.

Mohammed Shami: Shami bowled a series of lethal bouncers to kiss the helmet of the Bangladesh batters in the day-night Test last year. He set the stage by picking up two early wickets conceding 36 runs. Even he had played the CAB Super League final with Saha in 2016, where he picked up seven wickets in two innings besides scoring 36 and 27 with the bat. In the tour match in Sydney, he returned with 3/29 and 2/58.

Jasprit Bumrah: Bumrah will be the talk of the town throughout the Test series. The fiery pacer will make his international pink ball debut. Four years ago, he was part of India Green and played one game under the lights in Duleep Trophy to return with 1/108 and 0/24. In the tour match, he claimed 2/33 in the first innings which included the wicket of Joe Burns, Australia's potential opener for the fixture.

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