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Paine wary of depleted India in Melbourne


Melbourne: Skipper Tim Paine on Friday called India a proud nation that won’t roll over in the Boxing Day Test, and Australia must be “bang on the mark” to inflict more misery after their Adelaide collapse.

Australia head into the second Test in Melbourne full of confidence after thumping the visitors by eight wickets inside three days last week, skittling them for an embarrassing 36 in the second innings.

But Paine said it would be a mistake to underestimate India despite the tourists missing superstar captain Virat Kohli, who has returned home for the birth of his first child.

They will almost certainly also be without pace spearhead Mohammed Shami, who has reportedly fractured his wrist although this has yet to be confirmed by the team.

“We can’t pay any attention to mental scares or whatever anyone is talking about,” Paine said of India, who were savaged at home for their Adelaide capitulation.

“I mean, India is a proud cricket country, they are an extremely talented Test match side with lots of dangerous players.”

India will need to make at least two changes with Kohli and Shami out, but are widely tipped to make more. In contrast, Australia are expected to name the same XI.

Paine said Australia had studied everyone in the Indian squad and they were ready for whoever took the field.

“We know that some of the players they’re talking about coming in to their side... are dangerous players who like to take the game on and will play positively,” he said.

“If we give players like that an inch they will take a mile, so we need to be bang on the mark tomorrow as we were in Adelaide and be prepared to turn up for another five day battle.”

In the moment

Ajinkya Rahane, who has assumed the captaincy, said he didn’t plan to disturb Kohli as he prepares for his wife to give birth, but said they spoke at length before he left.

“Virat spoke to all of us before leaving Adelaide, about being positive, just playing to our strengths and just to play as a team, as a unit, which is what we have been doing for so many years,” he said.

“The last Test match, we had, comparatively, two good days and just one bad one where we lost it completely. “This week was all about backing ourselves as individuals and as a team, playing to our strengths,” he added.

“What is important for all of us is to start well tomorrow... staying in the moment will really help.”

Both teams have been living in bio-secure bubbles to ensure the series goes ahead in the new coronavirus world and Paine admitted it was easier to do so when you were winning. This was another incentive for his team to again put India to the sword at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where up to 30,000 fans will be allowed each day — around one-third capacity. — AFP

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