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Australia on verge of series victory, tourists India face Melbourne hoodoo

Australia can seal a Test series victory against India in the third match in Melbourne, after two thrilling wins.

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The hosts took the honours in Adelaide and Brisbane by 48 runs and four wickets respectively - and a draw would see them reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

While Steve Smith's first Test as captain ended in victory, the middle-order batsman will want to continue their winning ways at the Boxing Day Test in front of a vociferous MCG crowd.

Mitchell Starc (knee), Shane Watson (head), Shaun Marsh (hand) and Dave Warner (thumb) have all been in the wars of late, but the latter three are expected to play - and while healthy, Starc is set to miss out for fit-again Ryan Harris in Melbourne.

Mitch Marsh (hamstring) is one guaranteed player to come out from the winning Brisbane team, with Joe Burns drafted into the squad ahead of his likely Test debut.

Marsh's absence with the ball should not be felt too much by the hosts - with Harris, Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood all bowling well.

India, meanwhile, have not been shamed in the opening two Tests - despite blowing strong positions in both to succumb to defeat.

MS Dhoni's men won the toss in Brisbane and were 311-4 at stumps on day one, only to concede a triple-figure first innings deficit and fall to defeat inside four days.

A last-gasp effort on a deteriorating Gabba pitch saw them snare six second-innings wickets, but they could not keep their winning chances alive in the series.

Boosting their bowling stocks is the likely return of quick Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while Suresh Raina could be in the mix to come in for the struggling Rohit Sharma - who has made 81 runs in four innings at 20.25.

India's record of late in the traditional post-Christmas Test is poor - they have lost their past five in Melbourne, with their most recent win in an MCG Test coming in 1981.

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