After the reversal in the Perth Test, the Indian team looks in tune for the boxing day clash at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. As has been the case for quite some time now, the fortunes of the side will hinge on the form and performance of captain Virat Kohli.
Kohli, who scored a century in the second Test at Perth was gutted after the result and said that personal milestones do not mean anything to him if the team does not win. However, now with the MCG Test upon us, the way he walks out and scores runs will be crucial for the visitors.
If the drive to play a match-winning century was not enough, Kohli, who sits with 11 centuries in the calendar year, has the opportunity to equal Sachin Tendulkar's record who scored 12 centuries in a calendar year back in 1998.
The Indian captain is also only 181 runs away from becoming the highest run-getter in a year across all formats. He is at 2653 runs in 2018 and 180 runs away from the record holder Ricky Ponting (2833 in 2005) across formats.
Poor record of the openers
However, if Kohli has been in raging form, the Indian openers have been abysmal, to say the least. The lack of starts at the top of the order has been one of the reasons why India have not been able to get results in their favour.
The current pair, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have set the worst opening record in Test history. The duo averages a meagre 20.88 in 26 innings, which is the lowest for any pair to have played more than 25 innings. In the two Tests this series, Rahul and Vijay have aggregated 97 runs between themselves. Rahul has recorded scores of 2, 44, 2 and 0, while Vijay has notched 11, 18, 0 and 20.
Such has been the inconsistency at the top of the order for India this year that as many as five players have opened the innings for India, out of which three regular openers average less than 30.
"Mayank is a good young player. He has got loads of runs for India A. He is someone who has come through the ranks and when you look at his domestic record, his performances are as good as anyone. So that's a call we will have to take in the next 24 hours," coach Ravi Shastri said about Mayank Agarwal, who has been flown in after Prithvi Shaw was ruled out of the tour.