Ed Hawkins previews the traditional Boxing Day Test from the MCG where he hopes for an in-play trade on the hosts with India still reeling from being bowled out for 36 in the opener...
"We're looking for some to move in-play and the best chance of that is India repeating their strong bowling performance in the first-innings at Adelaide"
Australia v India
Thursday 25 December 23.30
Live on BT Sport
No Warner so same again for hosts
Australia are set to be unchanged after David Warner was ruled out with a groin injury. That means the hosts continue with a makeshift opening pair of Matthew Wade and Joe Burns.
Before the First Test that combination looked like a weakness. But Burns, who had been in awful touch, managed a half-century to restore confidence.
Still, winning Test matches has always been - and always will be - about taking 20 wickets and Australia have zero fears in this regard. Their pace attack is the best in the world and they proved that when razing India for 36 in Adelaide. They showed they don't need many runs on the board.
Possible XI Wade, Burns, Labuschagne, Smith, Head, Green, Paine, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon
Kohli absence a further blow for tourists
India are in a mess. The last thing you need after a humiliation is for your captain to say 'see ya, lads...I'm flying home'. Virat Kohli has gone back to India for the birth of his child and will not return. They have also lost Mohammad Shami to a suspected broken arm.
With those changes enforced, it seems unlikely that India will split disastrous opening pair Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. One more chance possibly. KL Rahul seems a wise choice to come into the middle order given he has international experience.
Shami's place could go to either Navdeep Saini or Mohammad Siraj. They may also bring back keeper Rish Pant for Wriddi Saha, who had a poor game in the first match.
Possible XI Agarwal, Shaw, Pujara, Rahul, Rahane, Vihari, Pant, Ashwin, Bumrah, Umesh, Saini
We are expecting a classic Test pitch with runs up front giving way to wear and tear for bowlers. The MCG drop-in groundsmen are wary of anything else after a disastrous surface for the previous ashes encounter and an abandoned Shield game there in 2019. India beat Australia at this venue in 2018 with 443 on the board but Australia followed that with a success against New Zealand with a first-dig score of 467.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for first-innings runs. Australia should go well and threaten 400. Sportsbook go 5/6 for that mark but you will get better odds on the exchange. India, however, should be taken on. Low-risk lays for 220, 230 and 240 or more are going in the notebook.
Hoping for in-play hike
Australia are 1.392/5 for a 2-0 lead. With their bowling attack so strong and India's batting so weak it is very hard to work out a way that the price is not going to be a winner.
But of course we don't bet at such odds. We're looking for some to move in-play and the best chance of that is India repeating their strong bowling performance in the first-innings at Adelaide. We might be able to book 1.804/5 Australia with Jasprit Bumrah finding his range and the dangerous Ravi Ashwin getting some tweak. As we said, the home attack will not need many runs to play with.
Steve Smith is jolly for top Australia bat with Sportsbook at 9/4. He is due a win. Marnus Labuschagne is 7/2 but many will be alarmed by his strokeless effort in the first-innings in the first match.
For India, we are looking to play long odds on middle and tail batters. Haunuma Vihari, Pant and Ravi Ashwin all fit the bill at 8/1, 9/1 and 25/1 respectively. We have a big downer on Agarwal so have advised going under 24.5 first-innings runs at 5/6. The conditions and strength of Australia's attack could be too much for his technique.
A Boxing Day betting bonanza on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets