Should Mayank Agarwal make his Test debut at the MCG?
Will Kohli/Shastri pick Hardik Pandya for the Boxing Day Test?
Pick India’s playing XI for the third Test.
The Indian team management received well deserved flak for their mystifying selections after the Indians were comprehensively outplayed by a near second-string Australian side at Perth.
Australia, even without two of their best players in the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner, proved to be more than a handful for the World No 1 team as they outplayed the visitors in every department.
Captain Virat Kohli and Head Coach Ravi Shastri totally misread the Perth pitch playing four pacers, leaving out Ravindra Jadeja after first choice spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was ruled out with injury, a gamble which backfired big time.
Australia’s off-spinner Nathan Lyon showed India what they were missing as he claimed 8 wickets in the game including a 5 wicket haul in the first innings.
Part-time Indian spinner Hanuma Vihari bagged 2 wickets to make it look even worse for Kohli and Shastri.
Picking the right team will be critical for India as they seek to bounce back after the Perth humiliation and one key area to be looked upon is the opening position.
The two openers — Murali Vijay and K L Rahul — combined have scored just 97 runs in the first two Tests and it is time India drops either one or both of them.
One replacement could be Mayank Agarwal who was added to the Indian squad for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests.
The Karnataka batsman — a big scoring star in domestic cricket — was part of the Indian squad for the two Tests against the West Indies, but failed to get a game.
With Rahul and Vijay struggling for runs and Prithvi Shaw ruled out of the series with an ankle injury, Agarwal could replace his close friend Rahul in the playing eleven.
Sunil Gavaskar — India’s greatest opener — was not in favour of the out-of-sorts Rahul staying back in Australia for the last two Tests. ‘I think he should be coming back and playing Ranji Trophy for Karnataka. It is not just that he is out of form, he is just not there and you can see that,’ SMG stated after the Perth loss.
Vijay has 49 runs in 4 innings compared to Rahul’s 48. His solid 20 in the second innings in Perth, defending well against the new ball before he threw it away with a loose shot against Lyon, could mean he will take the field at the MCG.
Kohli thinks the world of Hardik Pandya and the Baroda all-rounder could be picked as the fourth seamer and a handy batsman at No 6 or No.7.
Pandya will likely take Hanuma Vihari’s place with Ravichandran Ashwin expected to return to shore up the lower order.
The 2014 Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground ended in a high scoring draw with Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane hitting centuries. Ashwin picked up 5 wickets in the game while Mohammmed Shami bagged 6.
Last December’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG between England and Australia also ended in a draw. The pitch was given a ‘poor’ rating by the ICC as only 24 wickets fell over the course of 5 days.
The year before, Australia hammered Pakistan by an innings and 118 runs and in 2015 they trounced the West Indies by 117 runs.
The MCG pitch could once again be good for batting, but Australia have proved they have the bowling to trouble India on any wicket.
Will Kohli gives his struggling team-mates at the top of the batting order another chance or will he wield the axe?
Who should be the spinner for the MCG Test? Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja or Kuldeep Yadav?
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