Australia captain Tim Paine believes India’s bench strength poses an equal threat for the home team as they cannot afford to relax in the remainder of Test series. In the absence of skipper Virat Kohli and frontline pacer Mohammed Shami – India may be missing a few big names but Paine feels the visiting team still have some dangerous players in their ranks in form of KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant who can play positively and take the game away from the opposition.

Australia have done their homework on all the Indian players and are prepared to take on the newcomers in the Ajinkya Rahane-led side for the second Test that begins at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. “We know that some of the players coming into their side like KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are dangerous players and will play positively. If we give those guys an inch, they will take a mile. So we have to be bang on the mark as we were in Adelaide and be prepared tomorrow for another 5-day battle,” Paine told reporters on Friday, the eve of the second Test match.

The 36-year-old Australian also spoke about the first Test and how Indians were ahead in the contest till the end of day 2. “We know we won the first Test well but it was only on stumps on day two we were in a serious fight to win that Test. So that is the attitude we are taking to this Test match.”

Australia won the first Test by eight wickets after bowling out India for 36 in the second innings. India will be led by Rahane in Melbourne after regular skipper Kohli returned home to attend the birth of his child.

He added that the hosts had done all the homework on the Indian players prior to the series.

“Before the series we went through all of their players, strengths and weaknesses and identified some areas where we can attack their batters and vice versa for their bowlers where we think we can score and who we think matches up against them. Our focus on this Test match has been controlling what we can control and executing our skills,” added Paine.

“We have worked on who we think might play and what their side might look like and having a few plans and ideas around some of those new players, yeah we have got a little bit of time into some players that might come into their side”.

The match would normally draw a crowd of up to 80,000, but just 30,000 people will be allowed into the MCG. Despite the strange build-up due to COVID-19 restrictions, Paine is happy just to be playing the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

“Seeing the MCG sometimes with 30,000 in it you’re a bit disappointed when you turn up,” he said. “To have 30,000 fans there is certainly better than not playing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, so everyone’s excited.”