Australia will be desperate to turn things around in the second match of their series against India when the sides head to Perth for the first ever Test at Optus Stadium.
The hosts were outplayed during the first Test in Adelaide. While the final margin of victory might have only read 31 runs, they were lucky to get that close against an Indian side who proved why they are one of, if not the best in the world right now.
It was only the batting throughout the second innings from the tail – with Nathan Lyon, in particular, standing out – which allowed Australia to get anywhere near the target and give fans of both nations multiple heart attacks on Monday afternoon as the game was gone, then back on, then gone again.
India won’t be impressed they let the Aussies get as close as they did, but will still be impressed overall with their performance.
There are, of course, areas to clean up. They lost wickets early on Day 1 against a seeming ball and that will again be the case should they win the toss and bat again in Perth.
They also struggled to close out the match with some sloppy fielding on Day 5, while the main difference between the sides was Cheteswhar Pujara – something they will want to address in the form of others scoring big runs.
(AP Photo/James Elsby)
This Perth Test, on a reportedly green and bouncy drop-in wicket at the Optus Stadium is going to be a different type of game.
Instead of being a slow scoring grind, it’s going to be fast-paced and likely, easier to bat on if a batsman can get themselves in.
History
Overall head-to-head: Played 95, Australia 41, India 27, drawn 26, tied 1
Overall record in Australia: Played 44, Australia 28, India 6, drawn 11
Overall record at Optus Stadium: Never played
Overall record at the WACA: Played 4, Australia 3, India 1
Overall series: Played 25, Australia 12, India 8, drawn 5
Overall series in Australia: Played 11, Australia 8, India 0, drawn 3
Last five matches
Dec 6-10, 2018: India defeat Australia by 31 runs at Adelaide
March 25-28, 2017: India defeat Australia by 8 wickets at Dharamsala
March 16-20, 2017: Match drawn at Ranchi
March 4-7, 2017: India defeat Australia by 75 runs at Bengaluru
February 23-25, 2017: Australia defeat India by 333 runs at Pune
History in Western Australia
Jan 13-15, 2012: Australia defeat India by an innings and 37 runs at the WACA
Jan 16-19, 2008: India defeat Australia by 72 runs at the WACA
Feb 1-5, 1992: Australia defeat India by 300 runs at the WACA
Dec 16-21, 1977: Australia defeat India by 2 wickets at the WACA
Note: WACA used in lieu of any Tests at Optus Stadium.
Last five series
2016-17: India defeat Australia 2-1 in India (four-match series)
2014-15: Australia defeat India in Australia 2-0 (four-match series)
2012-13: India defeat Australia 4-0 in India (four-match series)
2011-12: Australia defeat India 4-0 in Australia (four-match series)
2010:11: India defeat Australia 2-0 in India (two-match series)
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Australia
1. Aaron Finch
2. Marcus Harris
3. Usman Khawaja
4. Shaun Marsh
5. Peter Handscomb
6. Travis Head
7. Tim Paine (c) (wk)
8. Mitchell Starc
9. Pat Cummins
10. Josh Hazlewood (vc)
11. Nathan Lyon
Rest of squad: Mitchell Marsh, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain
India
1. Murali Vijay
2. KL Rahul
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
4. Virat Kohli (c)
5. Ajinkya Rahane (vc)
6. Rohit Sharma
7. Rishabh Pant (wk)
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
9. Ishant Sharma
10. Mohammed Shami
11. Jasprit Bumrah
Rest of squad: Prithvi Shaw, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Hanuma Vihari
Team news
Australia
There has been plenty of talk of Australia making a change or two, but it’s all going to come down to team balance.
It’s hard to say anyone deserves to be dropped based on form. Sure, there were some awful shots, but Aaron Finch needs more than one Test on home soil for us to pass a judgement, while Marcus Harris looked solid as well.
Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh (like it or not) are both going to be there, while Travis Head was in fine form. Peter Handscomb also looked solid.
The bowling attack isn’t going to change either, so, barring any late freak injuries in the nets, you’d have to think Australia will be same-same.
India
The Indians are probably also going to come into this match unchanged, and frankly, why on Earth would you change what is a winning formula?
The final margin of victory was only 31 runs, but they were far more dominant than that. When all the question marks stood up and performed, they’d be mad to look at changes.
The only spanner in the works is the potential return of Privthi Shaw, who has resumed running. Whether he is ready for a Test match or not is debatable, but there will at least be the question posed in the Indian camp.
From the neutral outsider perspective though, it’d be an enormous risk to rush him back.

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Keys to the game
Does either team need a fifth bowler?
In short, if the first four bowlers do their job, the answer is probably going to be no. Line and length on what is likely to be a bouncy and green Optus Stadium track will be critical, and while the weather will be on the warm side, there is a real potential this game won’t see out four days.
If that’s the case, a couple of part-time overs on either side from Travis Head or Murali Vijay will probably be enough to get the job done.
But then, they are both spin bowlers and this pitch is, especially over the first couple of days, going to be somewhat a pace bowlers haven if you were to go by the majority of reports.
Mitchell Marsh would be the man to come in for Australia if they were to make a change, but then, batting at six, you have to be able to score runs. Marsh’s form has been poor and having been sent back to the Sheffield Shield, he made scores of 21 and 11 for Western Australia.
That’s not good enough for a recall in anyone’s books.
As mentioned above, India would be pretty foolish to make a change, outside of Shaw if he was fit, so it’s hard to see them having a fifth bowling option either.
Back-to-back Tests and the risks of injuries, particularly for Australia, whose attack has been prone to breaking down, is a major risk, but it’s one both nations will end up taking here.
If the deck’s green, Australia still have plenty of problems
While everyone has been busy ranting and raving about the Australian bowling attack on a green top, it’s hard to justify why everyone has seemingly forgotten the Indian attack.
Jasprit Bumrah will be the man to watch in this one. He has genuine pace, bowling up to 150 clicks in Adelaide, and while he wasn’t the most accurate, he will be the most dangerous on this sort of wicket where the effort he puts in will be rewarded with length balls shooting through at chest height.
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
The swing of Ishant Sharma will also make life hard. He had Finch at sixes and sevens during the first Test, with the ball which almost got him out during the second innings if not for a no ball being possibly the best he bowled.
Regardless, that swing is only going to be heightened, while Shami is also consistent.
This Indian pace attack isn’t like other Indian pace attacks. They are capable of holding their own in these conditions and will be seriously dangerous when they get their hands on the ball.
It’s time for Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch to make it work
There can be little question raised around Harris or Finch’s spot in the side. Finch scored big runs in the UAE on debut against Pakistan, and Harris looked solid before playing horrendous shots in both innings to get himself out.
While the pressure will start to build by the end of the summer on Harris, he looks a Test player through and through and, just like Cameron Bancroft last summer, is likely to be given the whole series even if the runs aren’t flowing.
Finch, on the other hand, could have his spot moved down the order if he can’t start scoring runs, especially with Khawaja and Marsh right behind him.
Khawaja, in particular, could benefit from coming in without too much pressure against the new ball, but for now, Finch is going to keep his opening spot in Perth – and boy does he need runs.
To restore faith and to make the Australian public believe he can be an opening batsman against the new ball, because right now, it wouldn’t pass the pub test.
This will be Virat Kohli’s time to shine
In Adelaide, it’d be fair to say Virat Kohli wasn’t at his best. He has often struggled against the Australians over the years, and while he did make a handy 34 from 104 balls in the second dig which could have proven the difference between the sides, he will be keen on more runs as the captain with the best chance to win down under – maybe ever.
It was interesting to watch the evolution of Kohli’s batting in India. During the first innings, he was trying to be his normal self, scoring freely and finding the fence.
It became evident that wasn’t going to work though, and so he batted more like teammate Pujara in the second dig. It didn’t work for the long haul, but it did mean he spent more time at the crease and ultimately, ended up with more runs to his name.
What we do know about Kohli is that he is at his best when he can go all guns blazing. He has a career strike rate of 60, and as I highlighted before the first Test in this column, Australia’s best chance at getting him out was to play the grind game and slow him down, cutting the boundaries and runs.
Doing that in Perth on a bouncy, fast track will be a little tougher.
This should suit the abilities of Kohli and if he can make a start – which is always tough to do in Perth – he will score big.
Mitchell Starc must pick up his game
The gauntlet has been well and truly turned on Mitchell Starc this week. His 2018 calendar stats make for pretty ordinary reading, particularly if you take out the nine wickets he got during the first Test against South Africa in Durban.
Outside of that, he has just 15 wickets in the last 12 months in Test cricket, having played eight matches. Even with the extra nine, it’s still only 24 wickets in nine matches, which just isn’t good enough.
Worse than that, he is the bowler who will constantly release the pressure valve on the opposition with wayward bowling. At his pace, it doesn’t take much to end up at the fence.
When others – namely Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – are working their behinds off to keep things on the tight and narrow, he has gone for more than three runs per over in 13 of his last 16 bowling innings (and four runs per over on four of those occasions). That sees the pressure just get released, making life tough on the other bowlers.
It’s on Starc in this Test to confirm his spot as Australia’s premier fast bowler. He has the potential to be so but, at the moment, he is resembling a 2013 Mitchell Johnson, and that’s not going to cut it.
On a fast green top which should suit him, this is do or die.
(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
The battle of spin will still be on
One factor often overlooked on decks like this one is the battle of spinners.
Nathan Lyon and Ravi Ashwin were both excellent in Adelaide, but they will need to be even more so in Perth.
The heat will be on from ball one for the quicks, who are going to be bowling in short spells, even if they are on fire and taking wickets by the bag.
The extra bounce on offer will make both Ashwin and Lyon dangerous, even if the pitch isn’t turning. Neither spinner in this series needs to rely on heavy turn to get their wickets, so it could be the spinners who cause the biggest shock.
Key game information: Australia vs India second Test
Dates: Friday December 14 – Tuesday December 18
First ball: 1:20pm (AEDT) – 10:20am (local)
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth, Western Australia
TV: Live, Fox Cricket 501, Channel 7
Online: Live, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, Plus7
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney, Kumar Dharmasena
Betting: India $2.15, Australia $2.25, draw $7.25
Hours of play

Session
Start time (AEDT)
Finish time (AEDT)
Start time (local)
Finish time (local)

First session
1:20pm
3:20pm
10:20am
12:20pm

Lunch break
3:20pm
4:00pm
12:20pm
1:00pm

Second session
4:00pm
6:00pm
1:00pm
3:00pm

Tea break
6:00pm
6:20pm
3:00pm
3:20pm

Third session
6:20pm
8:20pm
3:20pm
5:20pm

Note: Hours of play can be changed and modified due to weather. An extra hour is available each day should time be lost. The start of play can be brought forward by half an hour if weather prevented overs being bowled the day before. Play can be extended by a further half an hour (beyond the scheduled or re-scheduled finish time) should overs not be bowled at the scheduled finish time due to slow over rates.

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Prediction
While India were the stronger side in the first Test, it was Cheteshwar Pujara and his patience which set the Indian side back.
Their attack might be able to handle the green top, but it’s bounce and pace which have pushed Indian sides under in Australia before, and you’d have to think, with this Aussie attack one of the best in world cricket, they will be able to get the job done in what is extremely likely to be a low-scoring, fast-paced sort of Test, as compared to Adelaide which was slow and a real grind from start to finish.
Australia’s bowlers to get the hosts over the line and level.
Don’t forget, here at The Roar, we will have your every need covered throughout the match with a live blog and highlights of each day’s play on the site.