Opening batsman Mayank Agarwal will make his debut for India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in the Boxing Day Test against Australia as the two sides named their respective playing XIs ahead of the encounter.
The tourists have opted to drop both their opening batsmen in Murali Vijay and KL Rahul for the third Test of the series. The pair has been woefully out of form in the series and could muster only 97 runs between themselves from the preceding two Tests.
Hanuma Vihari, who has opened the batting previously for his Ranji Trophy outfit, is set to be promoted from his No6 spot to partner Agarwal at the top for India. After missing out on selection in the second Test at Perth, Rohit Sharma returns to the playing XI and will most likely bat in the No6 slot for India.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has failed to recover completely from his injury niggles and that has opened the doors for Ravindra Jadeja’s inclusion. Skipper Virat Kohli has elected to go in with a four-man bowling attack for the Boxing Day Test with pacer Umesh Yadav making way for Jadeja after his ordinary display at Perth.
India name Playing XI for 3rd Test: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah #TeamIndia #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/DImj8BVTj5— BCCI (@BCCI) December 24, 2018
The visitors have refrained from selecting Hardik Pandya for the clash with the all-rounder only recently making a return to the squad following a lengthy injury layoff.
The hosts, on the other hand, have handed all-rounder Mitchell Marsh a recall to the side in their only change from the 146-run win in the second Test at Perth. Marsh replaces Peter Handscomb in the Australia playing XI following a string of poor displays from the middle-order batsman.
The two teams are locked at 1-1 in the four-match series with Australia’s Perth win cancelling out India’s 31-run in the opener at Adelaide.
Australia: Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (capt and wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
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