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Australia to maintain heat in MCG Test

Australia are still heeding the lessons of their flat end to last year’s Ashes and are focused on not faltering in the Boxing Day Test.

India head to the MCG after posting their lowest total in Test history – an astonishing 36 in the second innings at the Adelaide Oval.

Cricket legends, including Ricky Ponting, believe the tourists’ historic collapse could bring about mental scars and result in a disastrous defence of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

With star opener David Warner still injured, Australia will take an unchanged line-up into the second Test as they seek to go 2-0 up in the blockbuster series.

But India could make as many as five changes, with talismanic captain Virat Kohli (parental leave) and fast bowler quick Mohammed Shami (broken arm) already forced omissions.

Opener KL Rahul and explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant are in line for recalls, with Prithvi Shaw and Wriddhiman Saha in danger of being dropped.

While India seem to be in crisis, Australia captain Tim Paine doesn’t have to think too hard about how easily complacency can set in.

Australia celebrated hard after retaining the Ashes in England last year for the first time since 2001, but then dropped the fifth Test as the hosts levelled the series two-all.

“The moment we take our foot off the pedal, and think we’re going all right (performances can slip),” Paine said on Friday.

“We saw in England in that fifth Test we can come unstuck pretty quickly.

“A huge focus of ours since that fifth Test since the Ashes has been winning after winning.

“But we’ve been fantastic in how we’ve prepared for this game.

“We can’t pay any attention to mental scars or whatever people are talking about.

“India is a proud cricket country, they’re an extremely talented side.

“We know some of the players they’re talking about coming in … if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

This encounter would normally draw a crowd of up to 80,000, but just 30,000 people will be allowed into the MCG.

Despite the strange build-up due to COVID-19 restrictions, Paine is happy just to be playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

“Seeing the MCG sometimes with 30,000 in it you’re a bit disappointed when you turn up,” he said.

“To have 30,000 fans there is certainly better than not playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, so everyone’s excited.”

Joe Burns, who entered the series under-fire, will again partner Matthew Wade at the top of the order after the Queenslander’s unbeaten 51 in the first Test.

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