India v Australia 2018-19: India's possible eleven for Boxing Day Test at MCG
India started with a close win at Adelaide Oval and lost the second Test match at Perth by 146 runs. Both teams go to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test on 26 December 2018 with series levelled at 1-1. While Australia announced an unchanged squad for the rest of the series, India included Mayank Agarwal as a replacement for injured Prithvi Shaw and Hardik Pandya in the team.
Team selection, first failure, and lack of resistance from lower order batting were the factors which worked against India at Perth.
India has a couple of options for the opening slot instead of out of form KL Rahul and Vijay. Mayank Agarwal has been in good form, and Parthiv Patel can play as a specialist opener. Hanuma Vihari, who is a middle order batsman, but, has the technique and skills to negotiate the new ball in batting friendly conditions at MCG. Rohit Sharma who opens in shorter formats is also in the squad, but, his failures in the red ball format and weakness against the moving ball works against him at the top order.
India may make another change at number six as Hardik Pandya is back in the squad. If Kohli decides to open the innings with Vihari, which will open up the option of having Pandya at six. Vihari and Pandya can add variety in the part-time bowling department.
Premier spinner Ashwin will be back in the place of Umesh Yadav and the other three pacers will lead the Indian pace attack.
It will be interesting to see the changes India make for the Boxing Day Test. Kohli's post-match press conference indicated the trust in KL Rahul and Vijay as openers, and he expects them to work out the best ways to give India a solid start at the top. In such a scenario Vihari may warm the bench irrespective of his decent outing at Perth to accommodate the all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
India's possible XI for MCG Test: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Rishab Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah