Match Preview: Australia vs India 3rd Test at Melbourne, December 26, 2018

Australia and India are set to clash on December 26, 2018, at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. This historic encounter marks the Boxing Day test match, a tradition that cricket fans across the globe eagerly anticipate. The series is finely poised, with both teams winning a test each. India emerged victorious in the 1st test at Adelaide Oval, while Australia claimed the 2nd test at Perth.

A significant change is in the air as India has decided to revamp its opening partnership. The existing pair of openers has struggled, accumulating only 97 runs in 8 innings, giving them an average of just 20.88. This duo’s performance has earned them the unfortunate title of the weakest test opening pair in the history of Indian cricket.

Lokesh Rahul has found himself in a slump, managing to score a mere 48 runs in his last four innings over two tests against Australia. During the Australia Tour, Rahul accumulated just 140 runs across 8 innings.

Rahul’s highest score in the four test innings was 44 at Adelaide, and he could only muster two runs in two innings at Perth. While playing nine tests abroad, Rahul has only managed a solitary fifty-plus score and currently holds an average of 20.94.

Murali Vijay’s form has also taken a dip, with just 49 runs to his name in four innings across two tests against Australia in the 2018 tour. In the first match of the tour against CA XI, he did score 129 runs. However, in 2018, across 8 tests, he posted an average of 18.18, including only one hundred against Afghanistan. In 7 tests abroad, his highest score was 46, with an average of 12.64.

To rejuvenate their opening pair, India will introduce Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari at the top of the order for the Melbourne test. Mayank Agarwal, a 27-year-old hailing from Karnataka, will be making his debut at the prestigious Melbourne Cricket Ground. Agarwal brings with him an impressive first-class record, having notched up 3599 runs at an average of over 50, including 8 centuries and 20 fifties.

The good news for India is that Rohit Sharma is fit and ready to be part of the playing XI. Ravindra Jadeja will also make an appearance as R Ashwin remains unfit. However, Umesh Yadav has been dropped. India will form a formidable lineup with three fast bowlers – Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah, and the spinner Jadeja.

Australia has made only one change to its playing XI from the Perth test, with Mitchell Marsh coming in and Peter Handscomb being dropped. Handscomb had struggled against India, scoring just 68 runs in 4 innings in the 2018 series, with a highest score of 34.

The stakes are high in this match. If India emerges victorious, it will be the first time they have clinched a series win in Australia. On the other hand, if Australia maintains its winning record, they will retain the Gavaskar-Border Trophy.

Hardik Pandya, who is fit, may be considered for the 4th test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, starting from January 3, 2019.

India Playing XI for the 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

Australia Playing XI for the 3rd Test:

  • Aaron Finch
  • Marcus Harris
  • Usman Khawaja
  • Shaun Marsh
  • Travis Head
  • Mitchell Marsh
  • Tim Paine (c)
  • Pat Cummins
  • Mitchell Starc
  • Nathan Lyon
  • Josh Hazlewood

Match Details:

  • AUS vs IND
  • 3rd Test, India tour of Australia
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018 – Sunday, December 30, 2018
  • Time: 11:30 PM GMT
  • Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
  • Umpires: Ian Gould, Marais Erasmus
  • Third Umpire: Richard Kettleborough
  • Match Referee: Andy Pycroft

The Boxing Day test promises an exhilarating contest between two cricketing giants. Cricket enthusiasts worldwide are eagerly anticipating the outcome of this clash of titans.

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