After an unexpectedly thrilling finish at the Adelaide Oval in the First Test, the action has now shifted to the Gabba in Brisbane where the Second Test will begin tomorrow on December 17th. Australia as we know are 1-0 up in this 4-match Test Series, however it was only because Team India wanted nothing less than a win and ended up losing the Adelaide Test in a dramatic fashion on the fifth day.
Above photo: BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 16: Australian Test captain Steve Smith poses with his captain’s blazer during a portrait session at The Gabba on December 16, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Smith will tomorrow become Australia’s 45th Test captain when he leads out his side against India. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Well for the Second Test, Australia will be without their Skipper Michael Clarke who has been badly injured during the Adelaide Test. Michael Clarke who claimed to have recovered from a hamstring injury went ahead playing in the first Test but only to have a recurring back spasm. While that seems to have settled down, Clarke went down on the final day tearing his hamstring. It was probably the last time that Michael Clarke could have played for Australia in a Test match, he has been ruled out of the remainder of the Test Series.
Australia are going to be led by the young 25-year-old Steven Smith who has been named as the stand-in Captain. So we have an Australian team that looks vulnerable without the solidity of Michael Clarke in the middle order and an inexperienced Captain Steven Smith who could well err just like how Virat Kohli did in the Adelaide Test. For India, Skipper MS Dhoni will be back on the field, so expect some normalcy in the captaincy department.
The hosts have made a total of three changes to their squad. Shaun Marsh has taken the place of Michael Clarke and he will be batting at no.5. Fast bowler Ryan Harris has been rested because of straining his quadriceps. Peter Siddle who honestly looked out of sorts in the first Test has been dropped. Siddle hardly worked up any pace and had bowled just around 130-135 kmph in the Adelaide Test which made him look ineffective.
23-year-old Josh Hazlewood will be making his Test debut tomorrow. Joining him in the fast bowling unit will be Mitchell Starc who is capable of swinging the ball both ways at 150 kmph speeds!
India is expected to make two changes atleast that is a minimum. Wriddhiman Saha will be making way for MS Dhoni. Karn Sharma looked like he was not a Test match material, so he will be replaced with R Ashwin most probably or Ravindra Jadeja. There is a likelihood that Mohammed Shami could make way for the quicker swing bowler Umesh Yadav. Varun Aaron who had bowled one of the most hostile spells by an Indian fast bowler ever is likely to retain his place despite a poor outing at Adelaide.
Ideally Shikhar Dhawan has to be dropped and in his place Lokesh Rahul should be drafted in being a technically sound opener. But will India make any brave selection moves under MS Dhoni remains to be seen.
The Gabba at Brisbane is usually tough for the Indian batsmen as the pitch offers lateral movement along with pace and bounce. The techniques of the batsmen will be tested and Virat Kohli may not be playing his majestic drives on the up with the sort of freedom he had enjoyed at Adelaide.
The problem for the Gabba Test is going to be the weather with rain and storms predicted throughout the five days of the match.
Australia Squad for Gabba Test: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Steven Smith (Captain), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin (Wicket Keeper), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle
India Squad for Gabba Test: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni (Captain and Wicket Keeper), R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Suresh Raina, Lokesh Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket Keeper), Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhawal Kulkarni, Umesh Yadav