India have responded dramatically to their loss to Australia in Perth, remarkably dropping both of their openers among three changes for the Boxing Day Test.
The tourists announced their XI on the eve of the third Test at the MCG, dropping KL Rahul and Murali Vijay as well as paceman Umesh Yadav.
Star offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin has again been ruled out, having not fully recovered from the abdominal strain that sidelined him in Perth.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja comes into the XI after missing the first two Tests, batsman Rohit Sharma has been recalled and Mayank Agarwal is set to make his debut.
Rahul and Murali, averaging 12.00 and 12.25 for the series respectively, had been under pressure to hold their spots with the series tied 1-1.
But the decision to axe both openers smacks of panic for an Indian side which has relied heavily on Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for runs during the series.
Agarwal appears likely to open alongside Hanuma Vihari, who batted at No.6 in Perth but is considered well suited to moving up the order.
Jadeja was ruled out for the first two Tests after having injections in his shoulder but has since proven his fitness.
Pace-bowling allrounder Hardik Pandya joined the squad in Melbourne but has been overlooked, having played just one first-class game since September.
Last time the sides met in a Boxing Day fixture, a lifeless MCG pitch ensured there was no prospect of anything other than a draw.
Kohli was optimistic enough work had been done on the pitch to ensure a result.
“Seeing the pitch now, it has much more grass than it had last time,” Kohli told reporters prior to the XI being announced.
“I hope that it’s a lively pitch. I hope that it does as much as it did in the first two games because as a side, you know you’re always in for a result that way.
“The surface, what I saw yesterday looked pretty dry underneath. There’s a good coverage of grass which should keep the surface intact.
“I think it should have enough for the bowlers to be interested on all days of the Test match and hopefully it’s a much more lively wicket than the last time we played here.”
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah