Team India suffered a mighty blow against Australia in the first of the four-match Test series as they were bundled out for 36 in the third innings at Adelaide Oval, their lowest ever total in Test cricket, and eventually lost the match by 8-wickets with the hosts chasing the 90-run target. Speaking on the loss, former Australian skipper and batting legend Ricky Ponting believes that the Indian cricket team would have to find ways to lift their spirits ahead of the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground and possibly, make the required changes in their lineup.
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The biggest void that the visitors would have to fill in would be of their skipper Virat Kohli, who would be heading back home for the birth of his first child. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane would be leading the side for the remaining three Test matches in Melbourne, Brisbane and finally Sydney.
Another blow that the tourists suffered in the day-night Test in Adelaide was pacer Mohammed Shami being ruled out of the entire Test series owing to a fracture sustained by him on his right forearm of a speeding Pat Cummins’ delivery. Though Shami couldn’t pick a wicket in the opening Test, he was instrumental in building pressure onto the Aussies by bowling tight lines and lengths.
Ponting, who is the head coach of the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), reckons that the Men in Blue need a player like Rishabh Pant in the middle-order to strengthen their batting lineup for the second Test in Melbourne that is scheduled to commence from December 26.
India has to make a couple of changes: Ricky Ponting
“With Kohli not being there as well, there is almost no one to pick them back up after a loss like that. They’ve to make a couple of changes. Rishabh Pant has to be in that middle-order. With Kohli not being there they’ve got to strengthen their batting, he has got come in,” Ponting was quoted saying to cricket.com.au.
The 46-year-old added, “I am sure but there is one thing to make selection changes there is another to lift the spirits back up again and make sure they are mentally right for the next challenge because the Australians are not going to go away now.”
Pant played a key role in India’s victory in the previous edition of Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia in 2018-19, wherein he emerged as the second-highest run-getter, scored 350 runs in 7 innings, at an average of 58.33 and a strike rate of 73.99. Not to mention, the 23-year-old Delhi cricketer scripted a majestic 159* in the final Test at SCG, which is the highest score by an Indian wicket-keeper on Australian soil.
The southpaw enjoyed success in the second practice Test match played against Australia A in the ongoing tour ahead of the Test series wherein he clobbered a mighty hundred to grab the selectors’ attention for the first Test. However, Wriddhiman Saha, being an experienced wicket-keeper, was picked as the wicket-keeper for Adelaide Test, but with him recording low scores in both innings, there could be a chance that Pant might come in for the second Test.