The stage for the Boxing Day Test couldn’t have been set better. The series is leveled and both Australia and India are armed with strong bowling line-ups on a Melbourne pitch which is expected to be a flat one. But there is something for the bowlers too, the curator has assured and fans should expect a thrilling contest.
India would be eager to snatch back the momentum and would like to take the decisive lead in Melbourne but for that to happen these three players will play a crucial role.
After scoring a gritty hundred at Adelaide, Cheteshwar Pujara failed to convert his start into a big score at Perth. At Melbourne, he might get a flat wicket to showcase his mettle and if that happens, India’s number three might well play a long inning which he is known for.
Pujara has shown that he can handle the Aussie pace department’s lethal pace but what remains to be seen is how he neutralizes Nathan Lyon’s spin threat. If Pujara silences Lyon at Melbourne, India can be assured that the series is sealed.
The right-arm pacer has quickly emerged as India’s leader in the bowling department and has impressed everyone with his pace and accuracy.
He has picked up the most wickets among Indian bowlers in this series so far and he has to continue the same work at Melbourne where pacers are expected to get some bounce and help if they bend their backs.
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King Kohli proved why he is sitting at the number one spot in batting rankings by slamming a stunning hundred at Perth. But to ensure India crosses the line at Melbourne, the Indian captain has to repeat his heroics as a batsman and must get his team combination right as a captain.
Kohli, the captain’s role could be more impactful at Melbourne than Kohli the batsman’s.