India will play Australia in the Second Test which begins on Friday, February 17th at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. The match is scheduled to begin at 9 am local time.
Having beaten the tourists comprehensively inside three days in the First Test in Nagpur, India will go into this match full of confidence.
Australia, meanwhile, will have spent the intervening period since that match working out a way of dealing with the Indian spin attack. Unless they can play Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin better than they did in Nagpur, their chances of success do not appear high.
One bright spot for them in that performance was Todd Murphy – the 22-year-old spinner took five wickets on debut and proved to be the one Australian bowler to consistently challenge the Indian batters.
India are likely to name an unchanged side.
There were hopes that Shreyas Iyer would be back to strengthen the middle order. However, he is still struggling with a back injury, and the selectors see no point in rushing him back prematurely.
Australia have selection dilemmas ahead of the match in Delhi with the fitness of all-rounder Cameron Green a key factor. He is still recovering after breaking a finger in December, and, although he is bowling at full pace again, has only been facing the spinners in the net with the bat.
If he is judged fit enough to play, then Australia could consider playing a third spinner in the form of Matthew Kuhnemann.
There was outrage among former players when Travis Head was omitted from the First Test despite averaging close to 90 after the home series against the West Indies and South Africa. However, it would mean the Australian selectors admitting they chose the wrong side in Nagpur, something that they may be loath to do.
Onus on Australian top order
If Australia are to do better this time, then more must come from their top order. Openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja are both highly experienced, but they managed just 17 between them in Nagpur, putting huge pressure on those that followed.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith did better, but they cannot always be relied on to dig their team out of a hole.
Nor was their middle order able to make the same contribution with the bat as the likes of Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Lyon Needs to Step Up
Before the First Test in Nagpur, India had been working on how to nullify the threat posed by Nathan Lyon. In the event, the veteran was out-shone by his much less experienced spin partner Murphy, taking just the one wicket at a cost of 126 runs. His team needs him to have a much bigger impact on proceedings in Delhi, given that he will have a pitch and conditions that should suit him.
Murphy partly benefited from an element of surprise in Nagpur, with the Indian batters not having faced him before. This time they will surely be ready for him.
Whilst the pitches in New Delhi are known to be batter friendly, they have also offered assistance to spin bowlers over the years, and, given that his proved to be such a deciding factor in the First Test, the groundsmen will have had this in mind when preparing the surface.
There is also a psychological element to this. Australia may already be adopting a negative mindset where they expect every ball to turn, rather than to play it on its merits.
The weather is expected to be dry and sunny, with a maximum temperature of 29 degrees Celsius throughout the duration of the match. There is almost no chance of rain delays.
India must be considered firm favourites to make it two in a row, given the way that they won the First Test, and how the Australians could not cope with their spin attack.
Australia though, need to think positively otherwise they will have lost the match before they even step on the field.
It is hard, though, to escape from the expectation that Jadeja and Ashwin will again hold sway, and that it is unlikely that the match will go the full distance.
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