Can’t give an inch to Rahul and Pant, says Paine

Australia have done their homework on all the India players and are prepared to take on the newcomers in the Ajinkya Rahane-led side for the second Test that begins here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, said Aussie skipper Tim Paine.

Paine says the Australians are well aware of the danger posed by the likes of Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul who could come into the Indian side as replacements for the Boxing Day Test.

Australia won the first Test by eight wickets after bowling out India for 36 in the second innings. India will be led by Rahane in Melbourne after regular skipper Virat Kohli returned home to attend the birth of his child.

“We know that some of the players coming into their side like KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are dangerous players and will play positively. If we give those guys an inch, they will take a mile. So we have to be bang on the mark as we were in Adelaide and be prepared tomorrow for another 5-day battle. We know we won the first Test well but it was only on stumps on day two we were in a serious fight to win that Test. So that is the attitude we are taking to this Test match,” Paine told reporters on Friday, the eve of the second Test match.

He added that the hosts had done all the homework on the Indian players prior to the series.

“Before the series we went through all of their players, strengths and weaknesses and identified some areas where we can attack their batters and vice versa for their bowlers where we think we can score and who we think matches up against them. So all of that stuff has been done pre-series. We just had a quick refresher yesterday before training on that. Again our focus on this Test match has been controlling what we can control and executing our skills,” said Paine.

“We have worked on who we think might play and what their side might look like and having a few plans and ideas around some of those new players, yeah we have got a little bit of time into some players that might come into their side,” added Paine.

The Australians are also guarding against complacency, something that saw them lose the fifth and final Ashes Test against England in 2019 at the Oval and return home with a drawn series even though they had retained the Ashes before that. The Aussies were leading 2-1 going into that final Test and looked good to seal the series 3-1 after bowling England out for under 300 in the first innings. But the English hit back to win and draw the series. Paine feels memories of that Test are still fresh in his mind.

“We can’t play again to mental scars or whatever people are talking about. We know India is a proud cricket country. They are an extremely talented Test match side with lots of dangerous players. At the moment we can’t take our foot off the pedal and think we are going alright. We saw in England in the fifth Test that we can come unstuck pretty quickly. A huge focus after that fifth Test has been winning after winning and our attitude towards the next game and the last week we have been, has been fantastic in the way we have prepared for this game,” said the Australia skipper.

Paine also said that the focus will be to start well and win the second Test to make the third and the fourth Test a real battle for the Indians.

“…We spoke about it why it is important for us tomorrow to turn up with the attitude that we turned up for the first Test. We know we are not going to roll over, we have to work our backsides to get them in a position like we did in Adelaide and if we do that again, then Tests three & four can become a real battle for them. First we have to start well tomorrow and put them under the pump,” he said.