Australia win toss, bowl in third Ashes Test

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Pat Cummins is back to captain Australia against England counterpart Joe Root (AFP/Patrick HAMILTON)

Australia captain Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to bowl in the crucial third Ashes Test against England on Sunday.

The home team head into the clash on a cool and overcast day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground leading the five-Test series 2-0 and with all the momentum.

They only need a draw to retain the urn as holders.

Light drizzle delayed the toss by 30 minutes, with play also due to start half an hour late, although the weather is forecast to brighten up.

Australia made two changes from the side that beat England by 275 runs in Adelaide, with Cummins back at the expense of Michael Neser, after the skipper missed the second Test as a close contact of a Covid-19 case.

Scott Boland makes his debut aged 32 on his home ground in place of Jhye Richardson, who is still sore after taking five wickets in England's second innings last week.

In earning his Baggy Green cap, Boland becomes the first Indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia since fellow fast bowler Jason Gillespie.

"We'd earmarked him for a little while," Cummins said of Boland's call-up.

Embattled England made four changes for a Test they must win to keep their Ashes dreams alive.

Zak Crawley was recalled for struggling opener Rory Burns while veteran Jonny Bairstow takes over at number six from Ollie Pope.

Speedster Mark Wood returns after being rested in Adelaide while off-spinner Jack Leach is also back in an attack spearheaded by veteran quick Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson.

Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad were overlooked.

"We'd have probably done the same," said captain Joe Root of the toss.

"We have an opportunity to put runs on the board early. I expect a reaction this week. We are more than capable of doing it."

England: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland

Umpires: Paul Wilson (AUS), Paul Reiffel (AUS)

TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)

Match referee: David Boon (AUS)

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