Daijiworld Media Network
Hyderabad, Mar 2: Hello and welcome to the coverage of the second Test between India and Australia. Not much of a gap between the first two Tests - the Chepauk Test ended on Tuesday and we're all set for the Hyderabad Test after just 3 days. India is the side with the lead - they had a comprehensive win in the first match thanks to an epic double century by its skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and look like the formidable unit they are known to be at home. But they will not be complacent; they were in a similar position against England and everyone knows what happened after that.
Australia have won the toss and elected to bat.
Clarke: We spoke a lot after the game about areas where we could improve. We've prepared well. The wicket looks harder than the one in Chennai. The spinners will still play a part and it will get up and down as the game goes on. Lyon and Starc sit out. Doherty and Maxwell are in. Maxwell makes his debut.
Dhoni: There will be a bit more pace and bounce for the pacers. Reverse swing will be crucial. The surface is dry so there will be reverse swing here. We worked on bowling in one area consistently. Partnerships are the key on wickets like this. We've got off to a good start in the series, we have to capitalise. Each game is a fresh one so we can't think too far ahead. We are unchanged.
Australia (Playing XI): Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke(c), Matthew Wade(w), Glenn Maxwell, Moises Henriques, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty
India (Playing XI): Murali Vijay, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma
Glenn Maxwell will make his Test debut today. Matthew Hayden, who is India for this game, has handed over the baggy green to Maxwell. What a moment for him!
Australia usually announce their team a day or two before the game, but they are playing the waiting game now. Clarke admitted that they are in a dilemma whether to play the extra spinner or stick to their pacers. We'll know their line up only at the toss. India, on the other hand, are unlikely to change their winning combination.
Pitch: As has been the case over the last few Tests in India, there is a lot of interest surrounding the pitch in Hyderabad. While Chepauk offered turn from the first day and variable bounce as the Test progressed, Hyderabad is expected to be much harder. The last Test played here was between India and New Zealand, and India won the match in 4 days with Ashwin and Ojha picking up 18 of the 20 wickets to fall.
Preview by Karthik Lakshmanan
While the memories of Sachin Tendulkar's consecutive sixes off Nathan Lyon, MS Dhoni's epic double hundred and Michael Clarke's fighting knock are still fresh, it's already time for the second Test. India are up 1-0 in the series and look good to double that scoreline as they take on a bruised Australia, who have a lot of questions to answer.
India: The series started with talks about India being vulnerable at home, but, in just a matter of one Test, they are back to looking like the side they are known to be in their own conditions. While only time will tell if India can reclaim the tag of being unbeatable at home, the Chepauk Test for sure showed what India are capable of in conditions that suit their style of cricket.
The biggest positive to come out of the Chennai Test was the performances of some key players in the team - Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Dhoni with the bat, and R Ashwin with the ball. Each of them - barring Kohli and Dhoni in the final Test - failed in the series against England and that turned out to be a major factor in the 1-2 loss. India's performances in Test cricket revolves around the form of their batsmen, so the knocks of Tendulkar, Kohli and Dhoni in Chennai sets up the team in good position for the rest of the series. What India will want now is their openers to strike some form - Virender Sehwag failed once again and Murali Vijay did nothing of note in his comeback match. However, MS Dhoni indicated that the team will not be changing the opening combination at least for the second Test, saying that it's important to continue with Vijay and 'give him some time and that comfort of saying he is wanted over here.' Vijay has been a replacement opener for India in Tests, and this is his chance to seal his spot at the top.
The other big question raised over the team combination in the first Test at Chennai was the absence of Pragyan Ojha. Ojha was India's best bowler in the series against England with 20 wickets to his name, but was dropped for the Chepauk Test as the team decided to go in with Harbhajan Singh due to the number of left handers in the Australian line up. OJha's absence means added pressure on Ashwin, but he rose to the task well and ended up with 12 wickets in his first Test in his home city. With the other left arm spinner in the team - Ravindra Jadeja - doing well with the ball, India are unlikely to change the winning combination which means that Ojha could miss out on a Test match in Hyderabad - his hometown.
Team news: MS Dhoni has rarely changed winning combinations in the past, and it is likely to remain that way for the second Test. All indications are that India will play with the same team in Hyderabad.
Australia: The big question going around in the Australian team, media and the cricketing fraternity Down Under: should Australia pick 2 spinners for the Hyderabad Test? The answer to that question is still unknown, but Australian captain Michael Clarke indicated that the spinning options of Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell will come under consideration. Nathan Lyon's nightmare at the MA Chidambaram stadium, where he went for 244 runs from a little over 50 overs, has clearly exposed the weak link in the bowling line up, but unfortunately for Australia, they do not seem to have any better alternative; Doherty has played just 2 Tests and is considered an ODI bowler, while Maxwell is yet to make his Test debut. What's worse for the visitors is that it was not just Lyon who failed with the ball in Chennai - every single bowler, barring James Pattinson, looked ineffective as they searched for reverse swing which never came on the pitch at Chepauk.
Australia's batsmen couldn't put enough runs on board in the first Test, but it's not as much as a concern as their bowling is. Each of their batsmen - except Hughes, who got a snorter in the second innings, and wicketkeeper Wade, got starts but couldn't convert them into big knocks. Michael Clarke and debutant Moises Henriques showed the way for the visitors with fighting knocks, and it is up to the rest of the batsmen to follow suit. The Hyderabad pitch is unlikely to be as much of a dust-bowl as Chepauk was, and that should give some hope for the visiting batsmen.
Team news: Jackson Bird has gone back to Australia and is ruled out of the series due to a back injury. It remains to be seen if Australia pick Doherty in the playing eleven.
Stats: MS Dhoni is level with Sourav Ganguly as the most successful Test captain for India with 21 wins. Can MSD go past Dada?
Virat Kohli is just 2 runs short of reaching 1000 Test runs.
Final word: With the victory in Chennai, the advantage in the series is clearly with India. Their batsmen are scoring runs and their spinners are picking wickets. However, they will be well aware of the perils of being complacent. The situation was the same in the last home series against England; India won the Ahmedabad Test easily, prepared a rank turner for the second Test in Mumbai and played 3 spinners. However, it was England who had the final laugh, with Monty Panesar coming into the side and spinning the visitors into a series-changing win. Can Australia do an England?