Pujara must work miracles to rescue India

If England's experiences in Australia are anything to go by, India's chances of coming back from 1-0 down to win their four-Test series are slim.

Only once in the past hundred years have England lost the opening Test in Australia and recovered to win the series: in 1954-55, when they came back from losing the Brisbane Test by an innings, a defeat almost as devastating as India's dismissal for 36 in the day-night Test in Adelaide.

Can Cheteshwar Pujara help India turn the series around?Credit:Getty Images

But India now have one factor working in their favour, which England never had. Operating in their own bio-bubble, India's cricketers will be almost immune from the public abuse that is showered upon England's players the moment they start losing.

Even so, immunised as they are from Australian derision, India are on course for the same sort of obliterating wipeout as England suffered in 2013-14, unless a miracle-worker stands up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when the second Test starts. It will also be the 100th Test between Australia and India.

Australia's current pace attack does not generate the same fear that Mitchell Johnson did at his peak, but as a combination Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are the equal of Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, with both attacks backed up by Nathan Lyon.

India also have a similar handicap to England after they lost their opening Test in 2013-14. One of England's leading batsmen, Jonathan Trott, had to go home. So has India's captain Virat Kohli, to attend the birth of his first child, after top-scoring for India with 74 in the first innings of the Adelaide Test before India made their lowest Test score in the second.

To offset India's loss of Kohli, in some part, David Warner has been ruled out of the second Test with the groin injury he suffered in the white-ball series.

In 1954-55 England had an X-factor fast bowler to turn the series around in Frank Tyson. India have one already in Jasprit Bumrah, who took 21 wickets at only 17 runs each in India's last Test series in Australia. India have the attack to bowl Australia out, but they have to put runs on the board.

India fortunately have the perfect role model of a miracle-worker, the man to turn this series around, in Cheteshwar Pujara. When India won 2-1 last time in Australia, when Steve Smith and Warner were banned, the hosts still had their first-choice attack of Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Lyon, and Pujara blunted them all.

Pujara was the alpha blocker, soaking up the overs, forcing Australia's fast bowlers into fourth and fifth spells, scoring three centuries in the four Tests and batting for more than eight hours in Melbourne and Sydney.

If Pujara can do it again over the next month, it will set an ideal example for an England batsman to follow this time next year. Better of course not to go 1-0 down.

The Telegraph, London

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