Cricket legend Ricky Ponting believes Australia have opened up “serious wounds” as they seek to further demoralise an embarrassed India.
Virat Kohli’s side suffered an eight-wicket loss in the first Test at Adelaide Oval, where the tourists were skittled for just 36 in their second innings.
Saturday’s meek surrender represented India’s lowest Test total.
Kohli’s return home will make levelling the four-Test series even harder for India, who are losing both a talismanic captain and arguably the world’s best batsman.
Paceman Mohammed Shami, who was struck on the arm by Pat Cummins during the stunning collapse, is also set to be an enforced omission for the Boxing Day Test.
Tim Paine, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were all keen to talk up the threat posed by India in the aftermath of the annihilation in Adelaide.
But Ponting suggested in no uncertain terms that the visitors, having unravelled so spectacularly, may struggle to pick up the pieces.
“Now there’s some serious wounds opened up,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“There could be a good chance (of a 4-0 series sweep).
“Let’s hope we do get a result in Melbourne and if we do, I think India’s going to find it really hard to bounce back and win a game.
“We’ll learn a lot about them, won’t we? With Kohli not being there as well, there’s almost no-one to pick them back up after a loss like that.”
Ajinkya Rahane will captain India in the remaining three Tests.
Prithvi Shaw is under pressure to retain his spot at the top of the order, having failed to snap a form slump in Adelaide.
Shubman Gill is likely to make his Test debut in Melbourne, regardless of whether the visitors opt to axe Shaw or not.
Ponting suggested Rishabh Pant, a contentious omission for the series opener, had to return at the MCG.
“They’ve got to make a couple of changes,” Ponting said.