With the four-Test series between India and Australia tied 1-1, much is riding on the Boxing Day showdown at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on Wednesday. Up to 90,000 fans are expected to attend the Boxing Day Test, and Virat Kohli and Co are under pressure to bounce back from the Perth defeat.

With Kohli breaking convention by naming his XI a day ahead, all the focus will be on India’s fresh-looking top order. Mayank Agarwal will earn his first Test cap, while Hanuma Vihari is expected to slot in as a makeshift opener.

Murali Vijay and KL Rahul scored just 95 runs between them across the opening two Tests in Adelaide and Perth, failing to play their part alongside the likes of Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. In a big vote of no-confidence, both openers were benched, while Rohit Sharma was declared fit and is expected to resume his place in the side after missing the Perth Test.

Despite winning in Perth to level the series, Australia too opted for a change by recalling Mitchell Marsh, whose seam bowling will help relieve pressure on the home side’s pace attack on a pitch that is not expected to offer as much for the bowlers as Adelaide or Perth.

Part of the thinking also revolves around the potentially decisive fourth and final Test in Sydney, with only a three-day recovery period if Melbourne goes the full five-day distance. Handscomb was the fall guy, axed after scoring just 34, 14, 7 and 13 across four innings.

Here’s a look at some of the stats from the famous MCG and how the teams have fared there in the past:

India's record at the main Australia venues

Venue Australia India
Adelaide Oval (including first Test of this series) 77 matches

Won: 40, Lost: 18, Draw: 19 (W/L: 2.222)
12 matches

Won: 2, Lost: 7, Draw: 3 (W/L: 0.285)
Melbourne Cricket Ground 110 matches

Won: 63, Lost: 30, Draw: 17 (W/L: 2.100)
12 matches 

Won: 2, Lost: 8, Draw: 5 (W/L: 0.250)
Sydney Cricket Ground 106 matches

Won: 59, Lost: 28, Draw: 19 (W/L: 2.107)
11 matches

Won: 1, Lost: 5, Draw: 5 (W/L: 0.200)

  • The toss, as it did in the first two Tests, could play a crucial role. Historically, MCG has been a bat-first venue. In the 110 Test matches played at the venue, the team winning the toss has batted first 79 times (winning 39 matches, losing 29 and 11 ended in a draw) and fielded first the remaining 31 (won: 10, lost: 15, draw: 6). Overall, 49 matches have been won by the team winning the toss out of 110, while 17 have been drawn.
  • Two out of the last five matches at the MCG have been high-scoring draws – vs England in 2017 and vs India in 2014. Australia won the other three matches.
  • Before the Adelaide Test this year, MCG was the only venue in Australia where India had won twice. In 1977, India won by a massive 222 runs but that was against a side weakened by World Series Cricket. In 1981, it was a thrilling finish when the margin was 59 runs as Australia were dismissed for 83 chasing 143 by a Kapil Dev special.
  • The most memorable bowling performance at the venue by an Indian bowler was the identical figures of 6/52 in both innings by BS Chandrasekhar in 1977.

Top five wicket-takers at the venue for India

Bowler Wickets taken (Best spell) Average / Strike Rate
Anil Kumble (6 innings)  15 wickets (6/176)  37.00 / 61.7
Kapil Dev (6 innings)  14 wickets (5/28) 20.50 / 54.7
BS Chandrasekhar (3 innings) 12 wickets (6/52) 11.58 / 27.4
Zaheer Khan (5 innings)  12 wickets (4/77) 35.00 / 59.8
Umesh Yadav (4 innings) 12 wickets (4/70) 32.91 / 50.2

  • Four Indians have taken a five-wicket haul at the venue, with Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Chandrasekhar all doing it twice. Erapalli Prasanna is the fourth bowler. Except Kapil, the three other bowlers have a six-wicket haul each against their names.
  • Sachin Tendulkar (with 449 runs in 10 innings) is the only Indian batsman to score more than 300 runs at the venue, a feat Kohli can go past with 66 runs in this upcoming game (234 runs in four innings, including a century).
  • Only one Indian batsman has scored more than one century at the venue – Vinoo Mankad in 1948. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane can equal that record if they reach the triple-figure mark.
  • Overall, only eight times has an Indian batsman scored a century or more at this famous venue, two happening in the match during the last tour.

Highest individual score at MCG by an Indian

Batsman Score (Year)
Virender Sehwag 195 (December 2003)
Virat Kohli  169 (December 2014)
Ajinkya Rahane  147 (December 2014)
Sunil Gavaskar  118 (December 1977)
Vinoo Mankad 116 (January 1948)

(With AFP inputs)