A 333-run loss to start a series they were considered firm favourites for, and India have their task cut out for them come Saturday. The second fixture of the Border Gavaskar Trophy kicks-off in Bengaluru from 4 March and India have some catching up to do after a week-long break. (Read: In Photos: Team India Go On A Rejuvenating Trek After Pune Defeat)
Both teams will be desperate to get down to business; while Virat Kohli and co. will want to get back to level terms in the context of the series, the Australians will want to convert the advantage they hold at this stage into an unassailable position.
The Australians will know that they have done well in Bengaluru previously – having won Test matches at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in 1998 and 2004 – and will want to add one more win to their kitty.
Virat Kohli and co. meanwhile will take confidence knowing they haven’t been beaten in the last five Test matches they have played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
None of the players in Australia’s Test squad have previously played a Test match in Bangalore.Aus Trivia
Lessons from Pune Defeat
It will be interesting to see how the Indian players react to the defeat in Pune. The team has been on a roll for a while now – often crushing opponents they’ve come up against along the way. This feeling of defeat and having to fight back to negate the opponent’s advantage is somewhat a new feeling this group of players must be experiencing.
The Indian team is treating the defeat in Pune as an aberration, as one bad match (like the one forgettable day at work). And that is indeed the right way to look at it. Chinks cannot grow or develop in a team that has functioned so well nearly two years.
At the same time, the Indian team should not overlook the lessons learnt from the Pune debacle. The batting – especially against a run-of-the-mill spinner like Steve O’Keefe - was abject, and coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli have at various press conferences admitted that the batsmen let the team down. The onus is now on the batting unit to bring the team back on even keel with the Aussies; it is now for the batsmen to show that this generation is just as good – if not better – than the generation that gave Shane Warne sleepless nights.
Pitch and Weather
The M Chinnaswamy Stadium is where you want to be if, as a batsman, you want to earn your confidence back. The pitch at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium has generally tended to be extremely good for batting, especially early on, before slowing down as the match progresses. If batsmen apply themselves well, do the initial grind, there will be plenty of runs for the taking – as is evident from the first innings scores in recent Test matches played at the venue. The outfield is also lightning quick, and if the batsmen are able to find the gap, chances are the ball will race across the boundary line.
There is no doubt batsmen from both sides will be queuing up to get the first hit in the middle. Pictures emerging from the venue have indicated that the curator and his team have wiped out most of the thin grass cover that existed on the surface three days prior to the Test match. That is more reason to bat first and post the runs on the board.
Add also the possibility of showers in Bengaluru during the course of the Test match, and teams would definitely want to bat first and take it from there. Though Bengaluru has experienced warm temperatures recently, in the last couple of days though, the climate has been rather pleasant. The met department predictions are for spells of thunderstorms on each of the five days of the Test match.
It is likely that the Australians – barring last minute injuries - will field the same XI that helped put an end to a sequence of nine consecutive defeats in the sub-continent. The only area of concern in the Australian camp will be the performance of the Marsh brothers, who contributed very little in Pune; between Shaun and Mitchell, Australia realised only 51 runs from four outings in the first Test win.
Where Team India is concerned, it will be surprising if the team management does not make at least one change to the XI that took the field in the opening Test. Jayant Yadav is likely to miss out – though which of Karun Nair or Kuldeep Yadav gets the nod remains to be seen. Hardik Pandya stays out, having picked up a niggle.
India’s Probable XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia’s Named XI: Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.