With Indian Cricket Team expected to field a different Playing XI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Sanjay Manjrekar came up with his team that he thinks can win the crucial Boxing Day Test against Australia to be played from December 26 here.
Virat Kohli and his troop could not manage to win the second Test despite having had their opportunities in the match, eventually suffering a 146-run defeat at the hands of Tim Paine-led Australia Team. India had started off the four-match Test Series down under on winning note in Adelaide.
While Indian top-order struggling to produce runs in Australia, Manjrekar believes that India should change their opening pair of KL Rahul-Murali Vijay and insert the middle order batsman Hanuma Vihari at the top of the order, as he could be a good choice as an opener with Murali Vijay.
Meanwhile, the cricket pundit left out Mayank Agarwal, who has been called up as a replacement for injured Prithvi Shaw, for the opener’s role at the MCG, as he has just arrived and will find it tough to get used to the conditions and the pitches immediately in Australia.
Manjrekar wrote in his column for ESPNCricinfo, “My thought is: on Australian pitches, against the hard Kookaburra ball, is it fair to throw a young talent in as an opener with no practice games under his belt? Also in India’s long history of Tests, there is not much evidence of front-line batsmen having made their debuts in Australia; there must be a reason for that.”
He further went on to explain his point of view on Agarwal, “I am not saying Agarwal is not an opener by choice and temperament, but there is the option of having him bat in the nets a lot till his instincts become somewhat Australian, and then maybe introduce him to Test cricket in the final Test. If it was a Test match in India, it would be a no-brainer to play him straight away.”
Manjrekar also picked all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja over Umesh Yadav and doesn’t feel Hardik Pandya should be given the opportunity to play at MCG while Rohit Sharma also made it his playing XI for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s Playing XI for the Boxing Day Test:
Murali Vijay, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami.
(With ESPNCricinfo Inputs)