Toss Pakistan chose to bowl vs Australia
Captain Shan Masood won the toss and elected to bowl as rain threatened to spoil the opening day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and Pakistan at the MCG.
A new-look Pakistan attack hoped to make early inroads in overcast conditions in Melbourne on a surface with only six-seven millimetres of grass on it. Masood expected lateral movement from the pitch throughout the match, while Australia captain Pat Cummins said he would have bowled first if he had won the toss.
Pakistan made three changes after losing the first Test by 360 runs inside four days on a difficult Optus Stadium surface.
Pakistan overlooked offspinner Sajid Khan as they again opted for an all out pace attack. Veteran Hasan Ali and left-armer Mir Hamza have been named and will support spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi and Aamer Jamal, who produced a fiery debut in Perth.
Seamer Khurram Shahzad, who impressed on debut with an energetic performance in the first Test, has been ruled out of the tour with a rib fracture while allrounder Faheem Ashraf was dropped.
Mohammad Rizwan returned as wicketkeeper and replaced Sarfaraz Ahmed, who had been contentiously preferred in Perth.
Pakistan have lost 15 straight Test matches in Australia since 1999, but two of their four victories in the country have been at the MCG.
A full-strength Australia remained unchanged which meant no room for seamer Scott Boland, who averages 13.80 in Test cricket on his home ground of the MCG.
Heavy rain has lashed Melbourne during the past 48 hours with showers and potential thunderstorms forecast in the afternoon on day one. The weather is set to improve as the match progresses.
Despite the gloomy surroundings, a big MCG crowd of 70,000 fans is expected for Boxing Day which is the marquee date in the Australian cricket summer.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Pakistan: 1 Abdullah Shafique, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Shan Masood (capt), 4 Babar Azam, 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Agha Salman, 8 Hasan Ali 9 Aamer Jamal, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Mir Hamza,
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth