After see-saw fortunes in the first couple of Tests, Australia and India get ready for the iconic Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. The Aussie-rules crazy city is geared up for the cricket action as the four-match series gets to its most crucial juncture.
It was a series that had so little from the batsmen. Especially the Australian batsmen trying to find consistent scores. Travis Head with 163 runs has been a revelation and leading the scores for Australia. It is, however, the lower order that is chipping in with runs. The last four batsmen made 227 runs for the Australians, while the Indian team got just 51 runs!
Bowling has been all about Nathan Lyon (16 wickets), while the pacers led by Mitchell Starc have built the pressure around the off-spinner. Another surface that is likely to aid the spinners and the Australian bowlers should fancy their chances. Keep an eye on Lyon and Cummins.
The Indian batting revolved around Cheteshwar Pujara (222 runs) and Virat Kohli (177) as expected. However, the lack of runs from the openers and no contributions from the lower-order has taken the shine off the Indian batting.
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Ishant Sharma have been exceptional for India, but the absence of a spinner hurt them in Perth. Will they recall Ravindra Jadeja or play a half-fit Ravichandran Ashwin?
Fantasy Players to Watch
Ajinkya Rahane is one of the most accomplished batsmen for India in alien conditions. Having struggled for runs in the recent overseas tours, the stylish middle-order batsman has found runs in Perth that should given him momentum. If he’s not already in your team, time to break the bank and net him!
Marcus Harris didn’t play like a debutant in this series. And, as the series went by, his composure and calm increased. The southpaw has got an unbeaten 250 at this venue during a Sheffield Shield match earlier in the season. Harris can certainly keep scoring runs, so all the more important to have him in your side.
Nathan Lyon has probably surpassed his own expectations this tournament with impressive returns in both the Test matches. With another drop-in pitch that is likely to take turn sooner than later, Lyon will be a tough nut for the Indians. Have him in your fantasy side already!
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Australia (probable XI): 1 Marcus Harris 2 Aaron Finch 3 Usman Khawaja 4 Shaun Marsh 5 Travis Head 6 Mitchell Marsh 7 Tim Paine (Capt) 8 Mitchell Starc 9 Pat Cummins 10 Nathan Lyon 11 Josh Hazlewood
India (probable XI): 1 Murali Vijay 2 Hanuma Vihari 3 Cheteshwar Pujara 4 Virat Kohli 5 Ajinkya Rahane 6 Hardik Pandya 7 Rishabh Pant 8 Ravindra Jadeja 9 Mohammed Shami 10 Ishant Sharma 11 Jasprit Bumrah