After a dismal run in the Test matches so far, the selectors have finally axed Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. The Boxing Day Test has found new spice with India finally roping in Mayank Agarwal as the opener and he will be accompanied by Hanuma Vihari.
R Ashwin did not pass the fitness test, and thus, Ravindra Jadeja is included as the lone spinner in the side. Rohit Sharma, who was injured, will walk out at the number 6 slot. Hardik Pandya was fit but the team management wants to give him more time to recover and be match-fit.
India (Playing XI) 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Hanuma Vihari, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt.), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Rishabh Pant (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Forecast is good for the Test match
The series is par at 1-1 and if India take the MCG Test, they will retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy and hence, the batsmen have to step up and be counted on a pitch which will have a fair share of grass covering. The forecast is sunny for the first four days and hence, the team might want to bat first after winning the toss.
"I have to continue batting the way I am. I can read the situation a bit better and if I can play like that it will be better for the team. Personal milestones can be achieved later as well but first I need to focus on situations and read them better," vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who has looked good in patches on this tour, told reporters on Monday.
Australia, on the other hand, have ditched Peter Handscomb and have recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. On a pitch which might change colour and character, Marsh's bowling can be called upon by Tim Paine.
"I believe in confidence, there's no doubt. Confidence, like respect, is something you have to earn. We haven't had much success...to win one, it's nice to get rewarded for the work the boys are doing. There were some really good signs in Perth," coach Justin Langer spoke about the team.
Australia (Playing XI) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Marcus Harris, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (capt. & wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood