Australia captain Tim Paine on Friday said a "proud" cricketing nation like India is not going to roll over like Adelaide, in the Boxing Day Test here and singled out KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant as potential threats. India are heading into the second Test, starting at the MCG from Saturday, on the back of a humiliating defeat in the series-opener in Adelaide. But Paine is in no mood to take it easy against their battered opponents who collapsed to their record lowest Test score of 36 last week.
"Well, we can't pay any attention to mental scars or whatever thing they're talking about," the skipper, who was named Man of the Match in the first Test, said during a virtual press conference.
"We know India is a proud cricket country, an extremely talented Test match side with lots of dangerous players."
Paine, who has led Australia in 20 Tests so far, recalled the Ashes last year when England bounced back in the fifth Test to level the series after being 1-2 down. "We saw in England that we can come unstuck pretty quickly... the moment we take our foot off the pedal and think we're going all right.
"A huge focus of ours since that fifth Test since the Ashes has been winning after winning. But we've been fantastic in how we've prepared for this game."
With their talismanic captain Virat Kohli (paternity leave) and pacer Mohammed Shami (injured) not available, India are set to make as many as five changes. "We know that some of the players they're talking about coming into their side like KL Rahul or Rishabh Pant, are all dangerous players who want to take the game on by playing positively.
"If we give them an inch, they will take a mile. So we got to be bang on the mark tomorrow as we were in Adelaide, and prepare to turn up for another five-day battle.
"We know that we won the first Test well but it was only at stumps on day two, we were in a serious fight, so that's the attitude we're taking into the next Test."
The skipper is aware of the fact that living in a bio-secure bubble for the tourists can be harsh, especially when they are 0-1 down after a heavy defeat. "Living in a hub or a bubble, it is certainly easier when you are playing well, there is no doubt about that but the flip side to that is, you are really close, you are really tight-knit and you are always around each other.
"It can go both ways. We have been on overseas tours before to India or South Africa and we were bowled out for 50. It can be really difficult, so, that's why it is so important for us to turn up with the attitude that we turned up with in the first Test.
"We know they are not going to roll over... We are going to have to work our backsides off to get them in a position like we did in Adelaide.
"If we can do it again, then Tests three and four can become a real battle for them. But, first, we have got to start well and put them back under the pump."
'Make a small sacrifice'
Paine invited broadcast and events staff to make a "small sacrifice" of joining them in a bio-secure bubble and ensure the third Test goes ahead as planned despite a spike in COVID-19 cases in Sydney. Cricket Australia on Thursday said Melbourne has been placed on standby to host the third Test between India and Australia if Sydney's COVID-19 situation renders it "untenable" despite efforts being made to continue with the original schedule.
"It's not ideal but it's a small sacrifice for everyone to make to get the Sydney Test up and going... There's no doubt the New Year's Test in Sydney is a huge part of the Australian summer," Paine said on the eve of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
"We've got so many guys from Sydney and NSW, so they love playing in front of their home crowds and having their families around, so hopefully that can get off the ground."
Urging others to join them, Paine said living in a hub is not that bad after all. "I know the boys would certainly be excited to have another few people into the hub to talk to, I think we're getting sick of each other. If we get a few more people that we can chat to I think it would be good fun.
"That's a decision they'll have to make. As I've said before, the hub life is not that bad, it's not like we're in jail or anything like that, it's still a pretty good way of living. I don't think any of us complain," he added.
His bowlers played their roles to perfection in the series opener and Paine now expects his batsmen to do the same and inflict more misery on an embattled India in the second Test. The Boxing Day Test starts here from Saturday with the hosts 1-0 ahead following their big win at Adelaide Oval. Besides his bowlers, Paine contributed an invaluable 73 in the first Test and was named the Man of the Match for bailing his team out of trouble.
"There have been few innings as a batsman, maybe few and far between where I've had to impact the game. I've been lucky that I'm with such a great side where our top six normally does the job," Paine said during a virtual pre-match press conference on Friday. "In the last Test, it was my turn to stand up and whether I'm going out there with 300-400 for five or 70/5, I've got a job to do.
"My role changes a lot depending on whom I'm batting with and situations of the game. I got to be flexible. Sometimes it's going to be my turn to dig in and score runs and that was the case in Adelaide.
"I'm hoping this week they all come out and we will have a lot more on the board."
Matthew Wade (8) may have failed as an opener but his makeshift pairing with Joe Burns will be retained at the MCG as David Warner is yet to return from his groin injury. "There is no doubt Wade would do a great job for us whether he bats one through to seven. We know that. He is a flexible cricketer.
"He has batted in a number of different positions in white ball cricket and red ball cricket and continues to do that job for us. That's why he's so valuable to our team."
The Boxing Day Test normally witnesses a crowd of 80,000 but amid the pandemic, only 30,000 will be allowed at the MCG. "Seeing the MCG sometimes with 30,000 in it you're a bit disappointed when you turn up but we're just lucky to be playing a Boxing Day Test at the MCG. It's certainly better than not playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, so everyone's excited," Paine signed off.