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

“India is a proud cricket country, they’re an extremely talented side. We know some of the players they’re talking about coming in... if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile," said the Australian skipper.

Australia captain Tim Paine said on Friday he doesn’t expect his side to let up in attempting to take a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series against India.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Australia captain Tim Paine said on Friday he doesn’t expect his side to let up in attempting to take a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series against India when the two sides meet in Melbourne from Saturday.

“The moment we take our foot off the pedal, and think we’re going all right, performances can slip,” Paine said. “But we’ve been fantastic in how we’ve prepared for this game. We can’t pay any attention to mental scars or whatever people are talking about.

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“India is a proud cricket country, they’re an extremely talented side. We know some of the players they’re talking about coming in... if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

The match would normally draw a crowd of up to 80,000, but just 30,000 people will be allowed into the MCG. Despite the strange build-up due to COVID-19 restrictions, Paine is happy just to be playing the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

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“Seeing the MCG sometimes with 30,000 in it you’re a bit disappointed when you turn up,” he said. “To have 30,000 fans there is certainly better than not playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, so everyone’s excited.”

Joe Burns will again partner Matthew Wade at the top of the order after Burns’ unbeaten 51 in the first Test.

On Thursday, Cricket Australia officials met to determine whether the MCG might hold two Tests in a row if a new COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney prevents the New Year's Test from being played in Sydney from Jan. 7.

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The CA board decided to wait further to give the SCG its “best chance” to host the third Test. The board also wants to stick with Brisbane hosting the fourth Test beginning Jan. 15, just four days after the SCG match is scheduled to end.

But should the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney result in the SCG Test being untenable, CA’s preferred contingency is playing the third Test at the MCG.

Paine on New Year's Test

"It's not ideal but it's a small sacrifice for everyone to make to get the Sydney Test up and going... There's no doubt the New Year's Test in Sydney is a huge part of the Australian summer.

"We've got so many guys from Sydney and NSW, so they love playing in front of their home crowds and having their families around, so hopefully that can get off the ground.

"I know the boys would certainly be excited to have another few people into the hub to talk to, I think we're getting sick of each other. If we get a few more people that we can chat to I think it would be good fun.

"That's a decision they'll have to make. As I've said before, the hub life is not that bad, it's not like we're in jail or anything like that, it's still a pretty good way of living. I don't think any of us complain."