India opt to bat in 3rd Test

Virat Kohli has a recent history of back issues

They stitched an unbeaten 92-run stand for the third wicket.

There was hope curator Matt Page, who took over soon after last year's boring Ashes draw that prompted the match referee to grade the MCG pitch poor, would inject a bit more life into the much-maligned strip.

"I'm happy. I would definitely take a 76 rather than something less than that".

Pat Cummins was the sole wicket-taker for Australia picking two wickets in an excellent show with the ball.

Sports editor at The Australian, Wally Mason, shot a warning on behalf of fans to the iconic venue after the recent run of mediocre wickets on Boxing Day.

Australia continued to bowl tight lines but gained little assistance from the pitch, as India's batsmen bided their time and pounced on looser balls.

Earlier, Brad Haddin admitted to being "depressed" at the state of the MCG pitch as Kohli and Pujara piled on the runs to grind Australia down in the first session of day two.

"I'm depressed", Haddin said on Thursday morning.

It was though his slowest hundred in Test cricket yet.

"There is a toss-up between (Rajasthan) Royals and (Mumbai) Indians for me".

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Agarwal, who has been in fine domestic form, scored his first Test runs with a three through the covers off Josh Hazlewood and had plundered 17 before the more cagey Hanuma Vihari, promoted to open from number six in Perth, troubled the scorers.

The flat track in Melbourne follows much livelier pitches in Adelaide and Perth which produced results.

Four overs later, in the 126th, Pujara got a delivery from Cummins that kept a tad low and knocked back his stumps as India were suddenly reduced to 299-4.

Not long after ducking into a Cummins bouncer to be hit in the helmet, Vihari (8) gloved the paceman and Aaron Finch took a simple catch.

Ajinkya Rahane, who was at the other end, captains Rajasthan Royals while Rohit Sharma leads Mumbai Indians.

Cummins also removed Agarwal, caught behind down the leg side.

He rarely looked threatened although he got an inside edge on 33 that just failed to carry to Usman Khawaja at gully before bringing up his 21st Test 50 from 152 balls.

Chesteshwar Pujara walked in next and helped India to get through to lunch with a score of 57-1.

Spare a thought for Peter Siddle, who had nowhere to hide after dropping an elementary chance to dismiss Indian batsman Rohit Sharma on day two of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

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