Melbourne: With the four-match series tied 1-1, India captain Virat Kohli has urged his batsmen to score runs in the crucial third Test starting at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Wednesday.

India won the opening Test in Adelaide but squandered that lead, losing the second game in Perth. The visitors’ bowlers have done exceptionally well in both contests but the batting has not been up to the mark, barring Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have been dropped for Melbourne Test. Mayank Agarwal will make his Test debut and he will open the batting with Hanuma Vihari. Umesh Yadav too was axed from the playing 11 as the team management recalled Ravindra Jadeja.

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On the eve of the third Test, Kohli emphasised the importance of the batsmen putting runs on the board.

"It is very important for batsmen to stand up, because as everyone can see, our bowling has been performing really well. Otherwise, the bowlers won't be able to do anything with the totals that we have been compiling," Kohli said on Tuesday.

"If we are batting second, we will try to take the lead or get as close to the opposition total as possible. If you equal a big score, then it becomes a second-innings' match and if you take a good first-innings lead, then you can capitalise on that.

"The batsmen must step up collectively. I won't say individually whether someone needs to do that or not, but as a batting unit, we have to definitely put up a better performance," Kohli added.

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The Indian captain made it clear that neither his team's Adelaide victory nor the Perth defeat will have any bearing when Melbourne Test starts.

"As a team, I don't think whether you are 2-0 up or 2-0 down or 1-1, what's happened in the past has no significance at all to what's going to happen in the next two Tests or what's going to happen in the next Test which is quite immediate.

"The key is to stay in the moment, stay in the present, understand and remember why you won the first Test, which was because of us being in the present moment," the skipper reiterated what he has often stressed.

Nathan Lyon with 16 wickets in two Tests have been India's chief tormentor so far and Kohli praised the off-spinner for his effort.

"Lyon is a very good bowler. He consistently bowls in good areas. So we have to have our plans against such a bowler so that we can also explore scoring options because if he is allowed to bowl at one spot for a long time, he becomes even more dangerous.

"These things you need to figure out constantly - who is bowling well in a particular series and what your plans should be against him. He has definitely bowled very well from the opposition." 

What makes Lyon special is the fact that he plays most of his Test matches in Australia.

"For a spinner to bowl so well in Australia is a huge thing. We are taking it as a challenge, and we definitely want to improve our play against him. We have put in the effort in practice, it now matters who we execute those on the field.

"As I said, if there is a challenge coming your way, you try and counter it. That's our effort - if we have been dismissed in a particular way, not repeat that mode of dismissal. As cricketers, that is all you can do," he added.

Last time when India played at the MCG, the Test ended in a draw even though Kohli and Rahane had scored hundreds.

"Last time the pitch played a big part in not being able to have a result either ways, for both sides. But seeing the pitch now, it has much more grass than it had last time and I hope that it is a lively pitch.

"I hope it does as much as it did in the first two games because as a side, you always know that you are in for a result that way. The surface, what I saw yesterday, looked pretty dry underneath. There is a good coverage of grass, which should keep the surface intact," Kohli seemed hopeful.

For Kohli, a pitch should have enough in it to keep the bowlers interested on all five days of a Test match.

"I think it should have enough for the bowlers to stay interested on all days of the Test match and hopefully, it's a much more lively wicket than the last time we played here," he opined.

Kohli will be playing his second Boxing Day Test Down Under and seemed pretty excited about it.

"It's amazing (as an occasion). Obviously, day one is the most anticipated day and we are expecting a lot of people to come in, maybe 80,000-plus. So I have experienced that twice before.

"It's definitely a magical day to step on the field, the national anthems for both teams, and you can sense the energy in the stadium. For me, that is my most favourite personal moment of the Boxing Day, when the anthems are sung, you are standing on the field and there are so many people around you. Definitely, it is one of the most iconic Test matches and we are very happy to be a part of that," he added.

(With inputs from PTI)