It’s been a far from ideal start to the Test series for India in Australia as the visitors not only were hammered in the first Test but have been hit by injury concerns and team combination woes. Ahead of the Boxing Day Test, India are staring at an uphill task and the absence of Virat Kohli, who has headed home on paternity leave, has made things that much more difficult.
Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in the remainder of the Test series but he will be without Kohli and senior pacer Mohammed Shami, who was ruled out with a fracture to his hand. In the absence of Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma, who is in quarantine in Sydney, India start as the underdogs as they look to prevent Australia from taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead.
However, there is hope, at least when considering recent history, as India have not lost a Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground since 2011. India drew the Boxing Day Test during 2014 and clinched a famous win in 2018 to seal a historic series victory Down Under. MS Dhoni was the last India captain to lose a Boxing Day Test in Australia when the touring side were handed a 122-run defeat by Michael Clarke-led Australia.
Notably, India prefer Melbourne over other venues in Australia as they have a better record at the iconic MCG. From 13 matches, India have managed to win 3, lose 8 and draw 2 Tests at the venue.
India’s Test performances at Australian venues
Melbourne: Played 13, Won 3, Lost 8, Drawn 2
Adelaide: Played 13, Won 2, Lost 8, Drawn 3
Sydney: Played 12, Won 1, Lost 5, Drawn 6
Perth (WACA): Played 4, Won 1, Lost 3, Drawn 0
Brisbane: Played 6, Won 0, Lost 0, Drawn 1
Perth Stadium: Played 1, Won 0, Lost 1, Drawn 0
India will seek inspiration from their recent Boxing Day Test win that came in 2018. The visitors, otherwise, have a poor record in the important fixture of Australian summer — India in Boxing Day Tests- Played – 8,Won – 1, Drawn – 2, Lost – 5.
Can Ajinkya Rahane continue good run in Melbourne?
Meanwhile, there are some personal milestones up for grabs. The focus, in the lead up to the Test match, has been on captain Ajinkya Rahane and senior batsman will be hoping to step up with the bat after poor outing in the Adelaide defeat.
While Ajnkya Rahane has a career average of 41.12 in 9 matches in Australia, his record in Melbourne has been impressive. In his maiden tour in 2014, Rahane hit a daddy hundred 147 and followed it up with 48 in the second innings as India sealed a draw. Rahane needs 87 runs to go past Virat Kohli on the list of most runs scored by an Indian batsman at the MCG in Tests.
Most Test runs by an Indian batsman in Melbourne
Sachin Tendulkar: 449 runs in 5 matches
Virat Kohli: 316 runs in 3 matches
Virender Sehwag: 380 runs in 2 matches
Rahul Dravid: 263 runs in 4 matches
Gundappa Viswanath – 257 runs in 2 matches
Dilip Vengsarkar – 249 runs in 4 matches
Sourav Ganguly – 241 runs in 3 matches
Vinoo Mankad – 240 runs in 2 matches
Ajinkya Rahane – 230 runs in 2 matches
Will Anil Kumble’s MCG record be broken?
Meanwhile, fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and off-spinner R Ashwin are also eyeing records in Melbourne as all 3 bowlers have an opportunity to become the Indian bowler with most Test wickets at MCG.
Bumrah was in imperious form in the Boxing Day Test in 2018 as he picked up 9 wickets, including a 6-wicket haul, to lead India to a famous win.
Most Test wickets by Indians at MCG
Anil Kumble – 15 wickets in 3 matches
Kapil Dev – 14 wickets in 3 matches
BS Chandrasekhar – 12 wickets in 2 matches
Zaheer Khan – 12 wickets in 3 matches
Umesh Yadav – 12 wickets in 2 matches
Ajit Agarkar – 10 wickets in 2 matches
R Ashwin – 9 wickets in 2 matches
Jasprit Bumrah – 9 wickets in 1 match.