Struggle evening

Adelaide, December 16

Virat Kohli and his “fearless” team would look to make a good beginning against an Australian team that is seeking revenge in their Test series, which begins with the Day/Night match here tomorrow. India currently hold the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which they won in 2018-19 after beating Australia 2-1 on their home turf. India’s task is much tougher now, with captain Kohli set to return home after the first Test.

Kohli’s eggs for the series are all in one basket, the Adelaide Test — he would leave for India on paternity leave after this game, handing over the team’s reins to Ajinkya Rahane. The stakes are high: If Kohli performs well with the bat and as captain, he could potentially set the tone for the rest of the series; if he doesn’t do well and India are beaten, it would be doubly difficult for the team to fight back in his absence.

Apart from Kohli’s magnificence, this series promises more of Steve Smith’s manic consistency, Cheteshwar Pujara’s doggedness, the eagerness of the young Marnus Labuschagne, and the fast bowling of Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Mohammed Shami. With workhorse Ishant Sharma missing from the Indian ranks and the enforcer David Warner absent from the Australian line-up, the teams seem evenly placed.

However, there will be distinct home advantage for Australia, along with the experience of playing more Day/Night Tests. A Day/Night Test match has its own grammar, with batsmen expected to attack in the first session while bowlers are at their peak once the sun sets, allowing the pink Kookaburra ball to move faster under light.

Shaw in, no Gill

Never has an Indian team been so spoilt for choices with multiple options in place for various positions. On Test eve, Kohli exercised his options, naming Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Prithvi Shaw in the XI, which means that Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja won’t figure in the match. KL Rahul won’t be playing, and Umesh Yadav will be the third seamer. Kohli would hope that he has made the right choices so that Rahane can help India do an encore once Kohli flies back to India. — TNS, Agencies

India XI

Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

Australia squad

Tim Paine (captain & wicketkeeper), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade

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