Ricky Ponting urges India to recall Rishabh Pant for Boxing Day Test and tips Australia for series whitewash
Ricky Ponting has urged India to recall Rishabh Pant for the second Test against Australia but says even he may not be able to prevent the hosts from storming to a series whitewash.
India were bowled out for just 36 – their lowest-ever score – as they suffered an eight-wicket defeat in the first Test in Adelaide to go 1-0 down in the four-match series.
They will attempt to level the series during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne but will be without Virat Kohli, who has returned home to be at the birth of his first child.
With Kohli missing the remainder of the series, 23-year-old Pant is in line for a recall to the Test team and Ponting believe he ‘has’ to play.
Pant has scored two centuries and two fifties in his 13 Test appearances to date and smashed a brilliant hundred against Australia A earlier in the month.
Former Australia captain Ponting said: ‘We’ll learn a lot about them [India], won’t we? With Kohli not being there as well there’s almost no-one to pick them back up after a loss like that.
‘They’ve got to make a couple of changes. Rishabh Pant has to be in that middle order. With Kohli not being there they’ve got to strengthen their batting, he’s got to come in.
‘They’ll look at Prithvi Shaw at the top of the order I’m sure but there’s one thing to make selection changes there’s another to lift the spirits back up again and make sure they’re mentally right for the next challenge because the Australians are not going to go away now.
‘Now they’re got a bit of a sniff they’re going to go even harder next game.’
Even if Pant is recalled and impresses, Ponting believes Australia are well on their way to reclaiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy following their emphatic victory in Adelaide.
India secured a first-innings lead in the series opener but were then bowled out for the fourth-lowest score in Test history as Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood blew Kohli’s side away.
‘Now there’s some serious wounds opened up,’ Ponting told cricket.com.au. ‘There could be a good chance [of a whitewash].
‘Let’s hope we do get a result in Melbourne and if we do, I think India’s going to find it really hard to bounce back and win a game.’
Opening batsman David Warner missed the first Test of the Australian summer through injury but looks set to return to the side in Melbourne.
If Warner is available, he will likely replace batsman Matthew Wade or all-rounder Cameron Green for the Baggy Greens.
Ponting added: ‘If David’s fit he comes straight back in so they’ve got a decision to make then on Green and Wade.
‘That’s the only obvious thing there. If both Pucovski and Warner are fit I think Will has to wait again.
‘On the back of Joe Burns getting fifty they’ve got to keep going with him, that’s the right call and that’s fair enough.
‘There’s a couple of little things there for the Aussies to think about but India will have a lot more headaches than them.’
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