Murali Vijay and KL Rahul were dropped while Ravindra Jadeja returned to the squad as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday announced the playing XI for the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne. Young Mayank Agarwal, who received his maiden Test call-up after Prithvi Shaw ruled out of the series due to injury, will make his debut. ODI specialist Rohit Sharma has also returned to the team after recovering from injury. The four-Test series is currently level at 1-1 and both teams would look to take an unassailable lead when they lock horns in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In the second Test, India paid the price of top-order failure. Both Vijay and Rahul have just scored 95 runs in their combined eight innings of the first two Tests in Adelaide and Perth. The duo, who literally failed to contribute decently, paid the price.
Debutant Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari are expected to open the innings in the absence of regular opener Vijay and Rahul. Rohit Sharma, the specialist ODI opener could also be given the chance to open the innings. Rohit Sharma has fully recovered from the injury after missing the Perth Test.
However, first-rate spinner Ravichandran Ashwin could not recover from an abdominal strain and left-arm finger-spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been given the opportunity to lead the spin attack.
Before the announcement of the team, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who has been under fire for his "rude" face off with Australian captain Tim Paine during the Perth Test, said that whatever happened in the past has no significance and his team would focus on playing good cricket consistently.
"As a team, whether you're 2-0 up or 1-0 down, what has happened in the past has no significance to what is going to happen in the next Test. So the key is to stay in the moment, stay in the present. We just need to play consistently good cricket and not get too excited or taken aback from situations in the match," Kohli said.
India Playing XI for Melbourne 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
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