Charge down the wicket with Test cricket tips as Australia and India strive to regain the series lead in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
10:30 (AEDT), Thu 7th Jan @ Sydney Cricket Ground
History: Played 100: Australia 43 V India 29 (1 Tie, 27 Draws)
Last meeting: December 26-30: India d Australia by 8 wickets at MCG
Final Thoughts: The Border-Gavaskar series is on a knife’s edge heading into the SCG New Year’s Test after convincing wins for both teams in the opening two matches.
India slumped to an eight-wicket loss in Adelaide, despite earning a 53-run first-innings lead. India made 244 in their first dig, but rued the diabolical run out of Virat Kohli (74) when they had fought their way to 3/188. Meanwhile, pace duo Mitchell Starc (4/53) and Pat Cummins (3/48) kicked off the Test summer in fine style.
Australia were skittled for 191, with only Marnus Labuschagne (47) and a superb rearguard knock from Tim Paine (73 not out) preventing total disaster. The hosts’ shortcomings were forgotten, however, as India crashed to their lowest-ever Test score – 36 all out. Josh Hazlewood (5/8) and Cummins (4/24) were the destroyers in India’s 21-over trainwreck. Under-pressure opener Joe Burns (51 not out) hit a swift and timely half-century as Australia finished the Test inside three days.
India’s emphatic MCG bounce-back
But despite Kohli’s return home for the birth of his child, the tourists responded with an eight-wicket victory in the Boxing Day Test. Australia were bowled out for 195 and 200; Labuschagne (48) and Test rookie Cameron Green (45) were the modest top scorers respectively. Jasprit Bumrah took six wickets across the two innings and Ravi Ashwin’s spin proved difficult to combat.
In between Australia’s twin failures, stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane scored 112 and Ravindra Jadeja 57 in India’s 326. They cruised to the fourth-innings target of 70 in less than 16 overs.
The post-match focus centred on the continuing slump of Steve Smith (0 and 1) and Burns’ (0 and 4) forgettable Test.
Big changes for both sides
Australia is set to be boosted by David Warner’s return from injury. He could be joined at the top of the order by debutant Will Pucovski, who has overcome a much-publicised stint on the sidelines with concussion. Burns will be dropped, while fill-in opener Matthew Wade is likely to shift back down to No.5 with Travis Head the player to miss out.
India’s build-up to the SCG Test has been overshadowed by biosecurity concerns. But they also have to deal with the loss of key bowler Umesh Yadav. Meanwhile, KL Rahul has been ruled out for the series after injuring his wrist at a Melbourne practice session. On the plus side, Rohit Sharma is available for selection – though who he will replace remains unclear. Navdeep Saini shapes as the likely replacement for Umesh in a pace bowling contingent already short on experience.
Five of the last nine SCG Tests between Australia and India – including in 2015 and ’19 – were drawn. Australia won the other four by an innings. Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant both scored big centuries in the 2019 Sydney stalemate.
Australia have lost just two of their last 26 Tests at the SCG, both to England (2003 and 2011). They have won 20 and drawn four during that time. Warner boasts four centuries and two fifties in his last five SCG Tests.
India certainly look over the odds as $3.80 underdogs. But I’m expecting Australia’s bolstered batting line-up to fire for the first time in the series and drive the hosts to victory. Labuschagne – who posted a double-century against NZ last year at the SCG – shapes as an astute top runscorer option.