Dec 26: Australia vs India, 2nd Test, Melbourne

Pro Tip: With key India players - Virat Kohli is back home and will miss the rest of the series - missing, expect Australia to have the upper hand. Put in as many Australians in your XI as possible.

Our XI: Tim Paine, Steven Smith, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Marnus Labuschagne, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah.

Substitutes: Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Nathan Lyon, Cameroon Green

Player availability: For Australia, David Warner, Sean Abbott and Will Pucovski are not available. For India, Kohli is back home for the birth of his first child, and Mohammed Shami has an injury. Ravindra Jadeja, however, is available for selection. We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne has scored 1302 runs in 17 innings at an average of 76.58 in the World Test Championship, well ahead of the rest of the pack - Ben Stokes and Steven Smith are the only others to have topped 1000 so far. He has been in good form of late too, with two Sheffield Shield centuries in October-November and a useful 47 in the first innings of the Adelaide Test against India.

Vice-captain: Steven Smith
Smith has been shaded by Labuschagne, but has tremendous WTC numbers too: 1030 runs in 16 innings at an average of 68.66. In Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne, Smith averages 113.50 (908 runs from 12 innings) with four centuries.

Hot Picks
Cheteshwar Pujara: The highest scorer on India's last Test tour of Australia - 521 runs in four games with three centuries. The last time he played at the MCG, he scored an epic 319-ball 106 over eight hours.

Jasprit Bumrah: Bumrah has picked up only 21 wickets in 20 games at an average of 43.66 (across formats) in international cricket this year - well below his standards. However, he can bounce back - he was the leading wicket-taker on the previous tour of Australia with 21 wickets in four Tests at an average of 17.00.

Pat Cummins: Since the start of 2019, Cummins has picked up 70 wickets in 14 Tests, at an average of 19.00. He loves bowling at the MCG too - 18 wickets in three Tests at an average of 16.16 - and picked up nine wickets against India the last time.

Differential Picks
Mayank Agarwal: In 2018, when India defeated Australia in Melbourne, Agarwal scored 76 and 42 in what was his Test debut. He has been prolific overall too, with 1000 runs in 12 Tests at an average of 52.63.

Tim Paine: Paine has scored 962 runs at an average of 32.06 in 24 Tests since 2018, and has also effected 111 dismissals in that period. He was the Player of the Match in the last Test - he scored a crucial 73 not out and took seven catches behind the stumps.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Nathan Lyon has only picked up four wickets in three Tests against India at the MCG. And he can only replace Cummins in this XI, due to credit availability; so think long and hard before adding him.

  • If Jadeja is fit and available, he can replace R Ashwin. Since 2018, he averages 53.30 with the bat, which gives him the edge over Ashwin.