Uncertain Australia need quick answers to keep series alive
Spin will likely dominate again and the visitors need to keep Ashwin and Jadeja at bay much longer than they managed in Nagpur
Big PictureIt was at this ground, when it was officially known as the Feroz Shah Kotla, a much more evocative name than its current moniker, that the Border-Gavaskar Trophy began. A one-off Test in October 1996, decided by Anil Kumble's nine wickets and Nayan Mongia's career-best 152 spanning more than eight hours, in what was Australia's first Test in the country for 10 years.
From that relatively low-key beginning, series between these two teams have grown into the dominant Test tussle alongside the Ashes. And Australia certainly don't wait 10 years between visits now. But there are already signs this tour may be a one-sided affair. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy could be retained in this game after India's thumping victory in Nagpur. Australia have a pile of issues to resolve if they are to compete - while they have not suddenly become a bad team, a rebound victory would be a remarkable achievement.
Given how dominant India were in the opening match, it is easy to forget that Australia did have a little foothold shortly after lunch on the opening day as Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith settled in. But 84 for 2 was as good as it got for the first visitors. Conjecture about whether 177 could be competitive were put into context by Rohit Sharma and then India's lower order. Australia's 91 looked bad - and was - but the game was lost long before then.
They know what they are going to get (why would India change such a successful game plan?) so they need to find some answers. Pat Cummins and Andrew McDonald have tried to portray a sense of calm - it is one of the qualities of this Australian team - so will be reluctant for major changes to personnel or tactics. A lot rests on the fitness or otherwise of Cameron Green about how much reshuffling they can do.
The last Test on this ground, in 2017, was actually a relatively high-scoring draw where Sri Lanka were able to survive more than 100 overs in the second innings. It would be a surprise if this match took a similar shape: something more akin to Australia's previous Test here, in 2013, is perhaps likelier where R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bagged a five-wicket haul apiece - they have been doing it for a long time.
That was at the end of the homeworkgate tour and Australia were a bit of a mess - Shane Watson, who had been dropped in that fiasco, captained the team - but Nathan Lyon should at least have some positive memories after taking 7 for 94. Todd Murphy's debut may just have him looking over his shoulder. Glenn Maxwell, whose potential value to this side has grown in his absence, opened the batting in the second innings. It remains to be seen how funky Australia get in their bid to stop the Indian juggernaut.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first) India WWWLW Australia LDWWW
In the spotlightAustralia's selectors showed their hand by leaving out Travis Head based on a poor subcontinent record, so the attention has to turn to David Warner. Not that he was the only other batter to struggle, but he has been to India plenty of times and his Test record is poor. In Nagpur he was bowled from round the wicket by Mohammed Shami then trapped lbw by Ashwin having been rendered almost strokeless. He dug deep at the MCG a couple of months ago for his double century when questions were being asked, but those conditions were much more in his favour.
Test match No. 100 for Cheteshwar Pujara. He has been a thorn in Australia's side over the last three series - most famously the back-to-back victories down under - and he will be keen to atone for the uncharacteristic shot in Nagpur when he top-edged a rarely-seen sweep. His form at home over the last two years has been ropey - he hasn't passed fifty since making 73 against England in Chennai in 2021 - and there is considerable young batting talent around, but you can never discount someone with Pujara's record.
Team newsShreyas Iyer, who averages 56.72 from seven Tests, is set to return to the middle at the expense of Suryakumar Yadav. With talent in the wings, not least Shubman Gill, there is pressure on some of the senior batters to find a score.
India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 KS Bharat (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohammed Siraj
If Green is fit then there remains a chance Australia could play three specialist spinners which brings Ashton Agar and the uncapped Matt Kuhnemann into the frame. However, it would be a big call to leave out Mitchell Starc. There may be a reluctance to backflip on the Head decision so soon.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Matt Renshaw/Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Todd Murphy, 11 Nathan Lyon
Pitch and conditionsThe surface was already looking as though it had been played on but local intel says that pitches at this ground can look different to how they actually played. However, there is not expected to be much pace and it will spin - it's just a matter of how much and how soon. The forecast is to be sunny and warm
Stats and trivia
Quotes"You're gonna fail over here - it's about failing the right way. These conditions are tough. If that's our best chance, by taking the game on, someone taking a calculated risk, if it doesn't come off, that's totally fine. No stress."
Pat Cummins keeping this in perspective
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo