Green batsmen Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head have given Australia cause for optimism after their gritty resistance against a surging England attack helped them hold on to their 1-0 Ashes lead.
India is on a high after winning the opening Test in Adelaide on Monday, and are leading 1-0 in the series. But Perth is another story with the Aussie speedsters determined to bounce out India on a bouncy WACA pitch. So how will the Test starting today fluctuate?
Will the series be locked 1-all if Australia wins or will Virat Kohli’s men be victorious and go ahead at 2-0?
If that happens, India will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy because this is a four-Test series.
Even if Australia wins the next two Tests at Melbourne and Sydney, they can only draw the series 2-all and India will lift the trophy as they already hold it after defeating Australia 2-1 in the 2014 four-Test series in India.
Like Australia, India also has fast bowlers in Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The first three did very well in the recent Adelaide Test. If the selectors feel that the pitch is too fast and bouncy they may include Bhuvneshwar as well.
Few remember that India under Anil Kumble defeated Australia by 72 runs in the January 2008 Perth Test, their first and only Test win on this venue.
This came a few days after the contentious ‘Bollyline’ Sydney Test won by Australia by 122 runs.
India’s surprise win in Perth a decade ago ended Australia’s 16-Test win sequence against all countries.
India had also ruined a similar 16-win sequence by Australia against all countries by defeating them in the incredible Kolkata Test of 2001.
Knowing India’s ‘Perth-speedo-phobia’, Australia picked four quickies for the 2008 Perth Test – Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and Shaun Tate.
This was for the first time in 16 years that Australia had played a Test without a spinner.
It did not work as Rahul Dravid (93) and Sachin Tendulkar (71) added 139 for the third wicket and India totalled 330; Lee, Johnson and Stuart Clark taking nine of the ten wickets.
India dropped Harbhajan Singh for a three-pronged quick attack. Their new-ball operators, Rudra Prasad Singh, Irfan Pathan and the tall Ishant Sharma, also enjoyed the conditions, capturing eight of the ten scalps – unusual for India, almost unique.
When skipper Kumble dismissed Symonds it was his 600th Test wicket.
Australia was all out for 212 and trailed by 118 runs. At one stage they were five down for 61 heading for humiliation but were rescued by Andrew Symonds (66) and Adam Gilchrist (55).
Sourav Ganguly top-scored with 79 and India managed 294 setting Australia 413 runs to win in little over two days.
Australia took up the challenge courageously and fought until the end. Michael Clarke top-scored with a gallant 81 and skipper Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey registered plucky forties.
But it all seemed lost at eight for 253, still 160 short. Just then Johnson (50 not out) and Stuart Clark (32) added 73 runs for the ninth wicket. Australia struggled to 340 and lost by 72 runs.
Kumble described India’s Perth victory in 2008 as one of the very best of his career.
Will India repeat this feat early next week or will Australia fight back to level the series one-all?