The return of Glenn Maxwell to Australia's Twenty20 team after injury should help their bid to avoid being tied down by spin as they were in their loss in the series opener in Adelaide.
Maxwell will be one of at least two inclusions into Australia's team for the Friday night match against India at the MCG. Steve Smith and David Warner are being rested ahead of their departure for New Zealand on Saturday morning, while others needed for one-day duty might join them.
With two of Australia's top three gone, Shaun Marsh is almost certain to play in the second match of the three-match series. The other players yet to be used in the 17-man squad are all bowlers: John Hastings, Scott Boland and uncapped duo Andrew Tye and Nathan Lyon.
Chief selector Rod Marsh said earlier this week that the MCG pitch had spun more than he expected it to in the one-dayer against India almost a fortnight ago. All-rounder Shane Watson, who was left out of that squad but has returned for the Twenty20s, predicted conditions on Friday would be even more conducive to spin.
"Knowing how the wicket normally plays here, it might be a little bit tired compared to what it was even a few games ago – against the Stars a couple of times in the Big Bash," he said. "The wicket might turn a little bit, given it's right at the back end of the season."
Outside the powerplay on Tuesday, Australia managed only one boundary in the seven overs bowled by specialist spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin, something Watson said could not be repeated on Friday.
"We certainly . . . have to play them better, much better than we did in Adelaide," he said.
That MCG match was the last Ashwin played in the one-day series. He was dropped for the final three matches but returned for the first Twenty20 – and justified his selection with 2-28.
Off-spinner Ashwin, who last year comfortably led the world for Test wickets but has a poor record in Australia, said watching Big Bash League matches had helped him prepare for this series, and the scenario in which Australian batsmen go after him hard, as Aaron Finch did in the powerplay on Tuesday.
"If they have a licence [to attack] I have a licence to pick up wickets," he said.
"If you target a bowler or don't target a bowler I think it's just a game plan. If that's their game plan I'm more than happy for them to keep on doing it. I think I have the abilities to come out on top."
Cricket Australia's recruitment of India, rather than Test-touring team New Zealand and West Indies, for the limited-overs series has entrenched India's status as Australia's most regular home opponent of late.
Over the past five summers India have played 34 matches in Australia across all formats, comfortably ahead of Sri Lanka (25), England (21) and South Africa (12).
While conditions in Australia have often unnerved Indian players in the past – ditto Australia touring India – Ashwin said their regular visits to Australia had helped he and his teammates "feel a lot more comfortable coming here".
"It's a wonderful country to come and play cricket. There's great competition, the players come really hard at us, and we do quite enjoy it," he said.
"This tour was a little bit more challenging because we landed in Perth and then we had to adjust to different time zones once we moved to Brisbane and Melbourne, so it took another week for us to completely come out of jet lag. These are the kind of small issues that never get publicised . . . but these are the challenges an international cricketer faces."
AUSTRALIA (from): Aaron Finch (c), Scott Boland, Cameron Boyce, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Travis Head, Nathan Lyon, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Shaun Tait, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson.
INDIA (from): M.S. Dhoni (c), R. Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishi Dhawan, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Gurkeerat Mann, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Umesh Yadav.