Whenever there is a limited-over match either in England or Australia, the Indian team’s supporters easily outnumber the home fans. But it’s not so much the case when it comes to Test cricket. While Indians will be significant in numbers, home supporters too come in droves.
It was the case in Adelaide as it was in Perth. Come Wednesday’s Boxing Day, the iconic MCG will be a sea of humanity. Crowd of over 80,000 are expected to throng the stadium where India and Australia clash in the third Test with the series locked at 1-1. Aussie skipper Tim Paine hoped his team’s supporters will outnumber the Indians.
“I am really excited,” he said about leading Australia for the first time in a Boxing Day match. “I am hearing there will be a big crowd tomorrow. We know wherever the Indian team goes there is a huge fan-base and I think after our win in Perth, I am hoping there will be a lot of Australians as well. Hopefully we will outnumber the Indians. I am really lucky and honoured to captain Australia on the biggest day of the cricketing calendar and cannot wait to get out there,” he remarked.
The MCG pitch has a nice grass covering, though not as thick as in Perth, but Paine felt it’s better not to read too much into the surface based on its looks.
“I think the pitch will be really good,” he said. “It will be really hot as well for most of the game. Most of the shield games have been played here, there has been one result. So, I don’t think it will play drastically different from how it has played all these years although it does look a bit different but we saw in Perth, looks can be deceiving at times.”
When asked if India, who have dropped both their openers, are in a panic mode, Paine answered in the negative.
“No, I don’t feel like we are on top of them, we feel like we are getting better with every Test and certainly when you have an inexperienced team and you get a big win like in Perth against the number one team in the world, guys are going to grow in confidence a little bit and come to Melbourne feeling better than when we did to Perth. We are improving with every game but we need to keep stacking up good days and play good Test cricket. And if we can do that for the next 4-5 days, I think we will be in the thick of it again,” he offered.