Gill, Siraj handed debuts as India looks to bounce back in Melbourne

India made four changes in its bid to bounce back from its shellacking in Adelaide with Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj replacing Prithvi Shaw and Mohammed Shami in the playing XI.

Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India made four changes in its bid to bounce back from its shellacking in Adelaide but it faces an uphill battle as Australia captain Tim Paine wants the host to continue its ruthless streak in the second Test in Melbourne from Saturday.

The tourist was shot out for a record low innings total of 36 in Adelaide where Australia triumphed inside three days to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series.

A combination of poor form, injury and regular skipper Virat Kohli's paternity leave forced the changes, which would see top-order batsman Shubman Gill and quick Mohammed Siraj making their debut in the Boxing Day Test.

India vs Australia: Gill, Siraj to make Test debuts on Boxing Day; Pant replaces Saha  

Fit-again all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant returned to the side to be led by Ajinkya Rahane in Kohli's absence.

Out-of-form opener Prithvi Shaw and stumper Wriddhiman Saha were dropped while Siraj owes his inclusion to the hand injury Mohammed Shami suffered while batting in Adelaide.

LISTEN: The horror show in Adelaide will force the Indian management to make some tough decisions. Can India bounce back in Melbourne? We discuss on Matchpoint Paradox

 

"Every individual in this team is capable of doing well, so it's really a challenge for the captain and management to select the 11," Rahane told a video conference on Friday.

"We had just one bad hour (in Adelaide). It's about staying positive, backing your ability and batting in partnerships."

Boxing Day Test: Tim Paine wary of depleted India in Melbourne  

Earlier on Friday, Rahane's Australia counterpart Paine said even without Kohli and others, the wounded tourist was more than capable of reversing its fortunes.

"The moment we take our foot off the pedal, and think we're going all right (performances can slip)," Paine told reporters. "A huge focus of ours ... has been winning after winning.

"We've been fantastic in how we've prepared for this game."

Paine's side is likely to be unchanged for the clash, with coach Justin Langer virtually confirming as much on Thursday when he said it would be a "pretty courageous man" who dropped anyone from the Adelaide game.

Cullinan to Indian batsmen: Keep your head still and bat close to body  

The match will also be played amongst the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, with the fate of the third Test in Sydney still up in the air because of a fresh outbreak in the city's northern beaches.

The Melbourne Test also normally attracts large crowds but COVID-19 restrictions have limited the crowd to 30,000.

"It's going to be different isn't it," Paine said.

"I think we're just lucky to be playing a Boxing Day Test at the MCG."

WHEN?

December 26-30 (10:30 a.m. local time/2330 GMT/0500 IST)

WHERE?

Melbourne Cricket Ground (30,000 restricted capacity)

MATCH OFFICIALS (all Australian)

Umpires: Rod Tucker, Paul Reiffel

Third umpire: Bruce Oxenford

Match referee: David Boon

AUSTRALIA

World ranking: 1

Coach: Justin Langer

Captain: Tim Paine

Team: Matthew Wade, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (wicketkeeper), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon.

INDIA

World ranking: 3

Coach: Ravi Shastri

Captain: Ajinkya Rahane

Team: Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.

PREVIOUS MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND TESTS

1948 - Australia won by 233 runs

1948 - Australia won by an innings and 177 runs

1967 - Australia won by an innings and four runs

1977 - India won by 222 runs

1981 - India won by 59 runs

1985 - Match drawn

1991 - Australia won by eight wickets

1999 - Australia won by 180 runs

2003 - Australia won by nine wickets

2007 - Australia won by 337 runs

2011 - Australia won by 122 runs

2014 - Match drawn

2018 - India won by 137 runs

RESULTS

First Test (Adelaide): Australia won by eight wickets

REMAINING FIXTURES

January 7-11 Third test Sydney Cricket Ground (1030 a.m. local/2330 GMT)

January 15-19 Fourth test the Gabba, Brisbane (1000 a.m. local/0000 GMT)

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