The third test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19 is all set to be played at the MCG on Boxing Day. The four match test series currently stands perfectly in the balance at 1-1 with both the teams having won one game a piece in the series so far. Meanwhile, both India and Australia have announced their playing XI’s with just a day to go before the crucial encounter.
India have axed both their openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, who have looked completely out of sorts in the ongoing test series. Mayank Agarwal, who was named as Prithvi Shaw’s replacement after the latter was ruled out with an ankle injury, has been named in the playing XI and will be making his international debut in the test match. The visitors however have suffered a big blow with the team management confirming that premier off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin not having recovered fully to match fitness.
Ashwin, who played a key role for the visitors in their win at Adelaide, picking up 6 wickets, was ruled out of the second test with an abdominal strain and will not be available for the Boxing Day Test. Left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been named in his place and will be playing for the first time in the series. The left armer was reportedly carrying a slight niggle in the shoulder even before the series kicked off but was declared match fit ahead of the all important encounter.
Rohit Sharma, who also missed out on playing the second test at Perth, has been retained in the playing XI for the third test. The exclusion of the regular openers implies that either him or Hanuma Vihari will open the innings for the visitors along side Mayank while the other would fit in the much debated number 6 slot.
Australia, in the meanwhile, have made just one change in their playing XI from the last game. All rounder Mitchell Marsh has been included in the playing XI in place of the struggling Peter Handscomb. Handscomb has scored 34, 14, 7 and 13 across the four innings in the test series and some of his dismissals were quite debatable as far as his technique is concerned.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
India XI: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah