Saturday, October 9, Bangalore
Start time 9:30 am (0400 GMT)
The Big Picture
Can India and Australia produce an encore? Is it even possible to match the high of that first Test? Both teams will miss key men involved in the drama at high noon in Mohali: Ishant Sharma has already been ruled out, and Doug Bollinger and VVS Laxman are not certain starters. India have other worries too: Gautam Gambhir was injured in the first Test and isn't available for selection. But both teams have always found a way to stretch themselves and produce exciting contests - and Bangalore, weather permitting, should be no different.
There are a few concerns, though, and a few questions. If Bollinger doesn't play, do Australia have the resources to take 20 wickets? Without him, can they hustle the Indians? Will a replacement bowler release the pressure and will that affect how the others operate? There is also a question mark over Marcus North, who seems to be given endless chances, and enjoys the confidence of his captain and selectors, while the rest of the world wonders why. Thankfully, for North, the rest of the world's opinion doesn't matter - though it might soon if he continues producing inconsistent performances.
India, too, have tough questions to ponder. Harbhajan Singh wasn't completely fit for the previous two series and that affected his bowling. Have his ailments healed and will we see a fully-fit Harbhajan bowl? The spinners on the bench don't seem to have convinced the management that they can be better than a half-fit Harbhajan. The rise of Pragyan Ojha has been because of Amit Mishra's slide. And is Sreesanth match-fit to replace Ishant? Can Suresh Raina manage to develop a way to tackle the bouncers, or will he slip away like Vinod Kambli?
All of this, though, could be redundant if the weather in Bangalore intervenes. It has been raining in the evenings during the lead-up to the Test and that might have affected pitch preparation too.
Australia L LWWW
Watch out for...
Simon Katich has made rapid strides in the last couple of years. Like Michael Hussey, he is extremely aware about his own game and its limitations. Katich has re-assembled his batting bit by bit and knows exactly what he is doing. In the first Test, he struggled a little against Harbhajan in the second innings. The off-stump line with the occasional delivery coming in with the arm had him groping forward. Has he worked things out since then?
Zaheer Khan is just back from an injury and produced a stellar performance in the first Test. When he started out playing for India, the new ball was his strength. Now, he's almost better with the old ball, especially when it's an SG or Duke. His task in the second Test will be to take out the in-form Shane Watson. Can he?
Laxman did not practice on the eve of the Test but MS Dhoni said he was likely to play, in which case Cheteshwar Pujara will have to wait a while for his debut. M Vijay, though, will get another opportunity in Gambhir's absence and Sreesanth is poised to replace Ishant.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 M Vijay, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh , 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Sreesanth, 11 Pragyan Ojha.
If Bollinger isn't fit to play, Australia are likely to give Peter George, the two-meter tall South Australia fast bowler, a debut. George was part of Australia's attack in the warm-up game against Board President's XI in Chandigarh, where he took a couple of first-innings wickets.
Australia (probable): 1 Shane Watson, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Marcus North, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Doug Bollinger/Peter George.
Pitch and conditions
"The pitch will be sporting, but it will help the batsmen more," the curator Narayan Raju said, before adding that the rainy weather might play a part. "Owing to recent rains, there is a lot of moisture in the pitch, and because of the overcast conditions, the moisture hasn't dried out. If the conditions remain the same, it could help the bowlers on the first day."
Stats and trivia
# Sachin Tendulkar needs 27 runs to take his world-record tally to 14,000.
# India last won a Test in Bangalore in 1995, when they beat New Zealand. They have played seven Tests since and lost four. Overall, India have won only four of the 18 Tests at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, while Australia have won two out of four at this venue.
# In the last year Rahul Dravid has been dismissed by left-arm seamers five times. Chanaka Welegedera took him out thrice and Bollinger got his wicket twice.
"Australia will come back strongly in the second Test. That is their culture and also they do not give up easily. We are equally prepared and ready to face the task."