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India vs Australia: Big player battles to look out for in Perth Test

India vs Australia: A green top is what can be expected at Perth and there are several big battles to look out for in the second Test match as Virat Kohli and India look to consolidate their lead while the Aussies will aim to hit back hard.

cricket Updated: Dec 13, 2018 10:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Australia's Mitchell Starc (L) celebrates after the dismissal of India's captain Virat Kohli during the second day of the first cricket Test match between India and Australia at The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
Australia's Mitchell Starc (L) celebrates after the dismissal of India's captain Virat Kohli during the second day of the first cricket Test match between India and Australia at The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.(AFP)
         

News has been coming in thick and fast on the social media as well as on several media outlets about the nature of the pitch at the Optus Stadium in Perth, venue for the second Test between India and Australia. A green top is what can be expected but this Indian team is different from any other that has toured Australia.

Virat Kohli is perhaps the first Indian captain who boasts of a team that has one of the finest, if not the best, pace bowling attacks in the world. Given the performance of the Indian pace troika of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah at Adelaide, the Aussies will be circumspect of creating a pitch where the dice is loaded in favour of the pacers. Keeping all the information available in mind, here are the top player battles to look out for in the second Test.

1) KL Rahul vs Josh Hazlewood

The importance of a good start at the top of the order is humongous on an away tour and India experienced the same in the second innings of the first Test where KL Rahul and Murali Vijay stitched together 50-plus stand. Rahul, when he gets going, can be an asset for this team and he now needs to put his head down and do the job consistently. But a big threat to him will be Josh Hazlewood. The Australian medium pacer picked up the Indian opener in both the innings at Perth and will be gunning for the Rahul’s head again in helpful conditions at Perth.

ALSO READ: Prithvi Shaw to miss Perth Test; Another chance for KL Rahul and Murali Vijay to shine

Rahul’s perceived weakness to the ball coming in to him, which has seen him lose his stumps quite often, is a big weapon for Hazlewood who has ability to move the ball both ways. Rahul though was dismissed poking at a delivery outside the off stump in the first innings and paid the price for a rush of blood in the second. Hazlewood’s immaculate discipline around the off stump can get the better of a Rahul, who doesn’s seem to have time on hand while batting in white kits there days. This battle could set the tone for the Indian innings at the top.

ALSO READ: India’s predicted XI for Perth Test; change expected

2) Virat Kohli vs Mitchell Starc

The marquee Indian batsman versus the marquee Australian pace bowler. Every time Starc comes on to bowl, there is a fear of losing a wicket for the opposition. The left arm paceman has created that aura around himself and a battle of attrition with the Indian captain could be on the offing. Kohli has been dismissed twice before by Starc in Test cricket but the Indian captain also has a healthy strike rate of 59 against the paceman and has got runs under his belt.

If Kohli gets going, it will be down to Starc to tame him and bring the hosts back into the match. The pace and bounce at Perth will make for a mouth watering contest between the two.

3) Cheteshwar Pujara vs Nathan Lyon

Nathan Lyon’s mastery over the Indian batsmen is now known to all but most people remember Rohit Sharma as Lyon’s bunny, not that Rohit helps himself to change that perception. But not many people would know that Cheteshwar Pujara has been dismissed 8 times by the Australia off spinner, the most for an Indian batsman in this line-up.

Lyon accounted for the India number 3 in the second innings at Adelaide and with Pujara in great form against the pacers, Lyon could just be the key to Australia’s problems in the second Test.

4) Usman Khawaja vs Jasprit Bumrah

The left hander was expected to shoulder the burden of being Australia’s mainstay in the first Test but his technique and temperament left a lot to be desired. Khawaja will look to shake off the dismal show of Adelaide and put on his best show in Perth. However, he will have to content will a fiery Indian pace attack, specially Jasprit Bumrah. The star Indian pacer picked up six wickets in first Test will look to continue the momentum in the second Test. Bumrah is known to trouble the southpaws by getting the ball into them and it is likely to cause problems to Khawaja in the past pacey wicket of Perth.

ALSO READ: In a first for Indian cricket, pace attack finest in the world

5) Aaron Finch vs Ishant Sharma

Aaron Finch has received a lot of flak due to the shot he got out to in the first innings at Adelaide and the burly opener will look to fix that in Perth. Finch’s technique in the longest format is questionable and Ishant Sharma sent his stumps for a walk in the first innings . There was a big LBW shout against Finch off Ishant’s bowling the second innings too but a no ball saved him.

The ball will move and bounce at Perth and Ishant looks to be in the form of his life. But Finch is a batsman who can take the game away from the opposition if he stays in the middle for a session. This will again be an intriguing battle at the top of the Australian innings.

First Published: Dec 12, 2018 14:06 IST

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