The absence of India captain Virat Kohli and speedster Mohammed Shami will benefit Australia in the second Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, believes Justin Langer.
During the first Test at the Adelaide Oval, Shami was hit on the right hand just above the wrist on Saturday by a delivery from Australia pacer Pat Cummins as the India No. 11 tried to take evasive action.
Kohli, on the other hand, will fly out to India following India’s dismal defeat in the series opener which was a pink-ball affair. He has been granted a paternity leave as he and his wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their first child.
The Australia head coach said that his team would look to score above 400 in the first innings to take charge of the Boxing Day Tets from the very first ball at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“Of course, no matter what sport you play, if you take two of your stars out,” said Langer on Thursday in reply to a question from media if Kohli and Shami’s absence gives the hosts advantage.
“Virat Kohli is one of the all-time great players. I think Shami is a real glue for the Indian bowling attack because he is so miserly. He is very skillful. Of course, it gives us an advantage…But we need to keep working hard and follow the processes that we have been following for some time. We know we have to start strongly on Day 1. We know we have to keep the pressure on (Ajinkya) Rahane if he is the new captain for India. So the processes don’t change. Whenever you take the best players out of any cricket team, of course that weakens them. That is the reality. Of course, it gives us an advantage,” he added.
Australia last week registered brilliant 8-wicket win over India in the first Test of the four-match series at the Adelaide Oval after the bowlers had bundled the visitors for a meager total of 35 runs in the second innings.
Chasing the target of 90 runs, Australia reached the total in just 21 overs on Day 3 of the pink-ball Test. Opener Joe Burns remained unbeaten on 51 off 63 balls.
Starting the innings with a 53-run lead, India lost nine wickets in just 27 runs in the first session on Day 3 of the pink-ball Test. Mohammed Shami, the No. 11 batsman, retired hurt and could not bat.
Josh Hazlewood (5/8) and Pat Cummins (4/21) with their fiery spells have now given Australia a complete control over the Day-Night fixture. The hosts need to chase 90 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Langer acknowledged the bowling effort but said they are doing some work on their batting and fielding. “Bit of fielding work, bit of batting work,” he said on the work being done at practice ahead of the second Test.
“I said on the morning of Day 3 before that extraordinary bowling show, I said to the guys, let us not make mistakes. This is proper Test match cricket. India had the better of us on the first two days. We are in real arm-wrestle of a Test match. It was amazing how things turned around. We know how good team India is. We know how we have to keep improving. I said last year if we have to become a great team we need to keep winning after winning. Really good teams keep winning and winning. It is an area that we have addressed. We have start well on Boxing Day morning. We know India will start well as we saw in first two days in Adelaide,” Langer said.