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Australia will pour all of its effort into dismissing Ajinkya Rahane today, after India’s stand-in skipper produced one of the greatest Boxing Day Test knocks to put Tim Paine’s side on the ropes at the MCG.
Rahane’s 12th Test ton propelled the Indians to an 82-run lead with five wickets in hand, as the Australians were left to rue a staggering five dropped catches that could well allow India to level the series at one apiece.
India were 5-277 at stumps, with four of the five wickets coming via Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins while another came from Nathan Lyon.
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Aussies drop FIVE in fielding nightmare
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TALKING POINTS: The bowling difference holding Aussies back; two men who can turn the match
COLUMN: Australia’s margin for error was tiny. FIVE dropped catches took the game out of reach
Rahane’s century and India’s remarkable turnaround since the Adelaide Test has led to some questions over whether he should take the captaincy up full time but Virat Kohli is under no real pressure to hand over the reins.
However, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes Rahane’s success does open up a scary possibility for the rest of the world.
“Virat will be captain of India as long as he wants to, but if he thinks standing down is going to make him an even better player, then that’s a scary thing for world cricket,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“I’m not doubting Kohli’s captaincy skills or credentials at all, I’m just saying it’s going to take something special to pick up the pieces and Rahane’s been able to do that so far.
“I don’t think there’ll be pressure from anywhere else for Kohli to do that but let’s wait and see.”
Day two of the Boxing Day Test was a bittersweet one for Starc, who took his 250th Test wicket but was left pining over several missed opportunities in the field that could’ve added to the total.
“Not our best day, but not our worst. We created a fair few chances but couldn’t hold onto those half ones,” he told reporters at stumps.
“‘Jinksy’ (Ajinkya Rahane) batted well. (I) thought there was some really good stuff from us but didn’t capitalise on a couple of chances.
“He batted well. We probably could’ve got him out three or four or five times. He’s run his luck, but it was a good hundred.”
Rain brought an early end to a humid day on Sunday. There is no rain forecast on Monday, with tops of 18 degrees predicted.
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