Ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, both India and Australia announced their playing XIs well in advance. India had three changes, with Mayank Agarwal handed a debut in place of KL Rahul while Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja replaced Murali Vijay and Umesh Yadav. For Australia, the only notable change was Mitchell Marsh replacing Victoria’s Peter Handscomb. This change did not go down too well with the Australian public present in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and when Marsh came on to bowl in the first innings, he was booed by a section of the crowd from the Great Southern Stand end. Both Marsh and Handscomb have been rotated in the side ever since the Pakistan series and both have struggled.
Handscomb was picked in the first two Tests against India after he was overlooked for the series against Pakistan. In Adelaide, he had scores of 34 and 14 but in the Perth Test, he struggled in seaming conditions and was dismissed cheaply for 7 and 13. Handscomb, ironically, came into the Australia side at the expense of Mitchell Marsh, who struggled with both bat and ball in the Pakistan series. In the Dubai Test, he managed 12 runs and did not take a single wicket. In the Abu Dhabi Test, he picked up two wickets but scored just 13 and 5 as Australia were routed by 373 runs to lose the series 1-0.
Marsh played a couple of first class games for Western Australia but he continued to struggle while Handscomb had fought his way back into the side for the India series after scoring three fifties and a century for Victoria. The century was against South Australia and he hit it at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the ongoing Boxing Day Test, Marsh has struggled for rhythm and has not been effective with the ball on a wicket which is good for batting.
The current four-match series is level 1-1 after India won the first Test in Adelaide by 31 runs and Australia fought back in style with a magnificent 146-run win. India will be determined to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series while Australia would be hoping to end what has been a tough year for them with a win.