India vs Australia, Third Test, Match Preview  

After a competitive start to Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India and Australia reach SCG for the third Test of the series. The series is now leveled at 1-1, and the winner of this game will fancy its chances in the WTC final. 

Match Timings: Jan 07, 5 AM IST 

Team Preview 

Team India will be back in action for the first time in 2021 after a remarkable victory in the Boxing-Day Test. Ajinkya Rahane maintained his captaincy record by winning a third consecutive Test match as the skipper. He scored his 12th test ton in MCG and led from the front. Back of the Adelaide ghosts, India upset all the odds in Melbourne to outclass Aussies to level the series. Injury concerns are hitting India ahead of this important clash, and they will miss Umesh Yadav for the rest of the series. KL Rahul was supposed to play in the middle-order, but he also suffered an injury during the practice. The bubble protocol also troubled five Indian players, but CA permitted them to continue training. 

India will have a big boost to its top-order as Rohit Sharma will be back as the opener, and Mayank Agarwal will make way for him due to an inferior form. Shubhman Gill was in good touch in his debut match, scoring 45 and 35. His technical approach against moving ball was excellent. Pujara’s form is a big concern for Team India, but he is a key figure at number three. Hanuma Vihari is not converting his start, but he will not be dropped after KL Rahul’s injury. India will go ahead with its two main spinners Jadeja and Ashwin. The Australian batsmen looked problematic against the spin. Ashwin has bagged 10 wickets in this series at an average of 17.70, and for the first time, an Indian spinner is a big threat on Australian soil. 

The confusion occurred for the third seamer, and three players were in the line. Apart from Navdeep Saini and Thakur, Natarajan has also been included in the squad but management showed faith in Navdeep Saini who will make his Test debut in SCG. India are entering as the favourites, and if they win here, they will retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the third time in a row. The result of the last Test match will not affect India. They have won the series in 2017 and 2019. 

Meanwhile, Australia have to look back at its batting performance in the first two Tests. Even Ponting has questioned the terrible approach of Australian batting. The one good session made them a winner in Adelaide, but the pacers couldn’t repeat it in Melbourne. Aussie batsmen suffered against the spin at home, and we saw it for the first time in recent years. Steve Smith had an abysmal number this series with two ducks. Labuschagne looked slightly better, but he set a standard for himself earlier, so the performance is not big. 

In three full-innings, Australia’s highest score was 200, and it really puts a question mark on the team’s attitude. David Warner will be back as the opener, and Wade will join him in the opening slot. Will Pucovski is also fit, and Langer can send him as an opener to try Wade in middle-order in place of Travis Head. The hosts will avoid any big changes in the squad, and they would try to bounce-back in this Test. The failure in the boxing-day Test put them behind in the series, and India look a strong unit despite the injury issues. 

Pitch Report 

SCG’s surface is a good batting wicket, and Indians have enjoyed batting here. Later as the match will progress, spinners will be in command. On day 4 and day 5, we may expect a turn around in favour of the bowlers. Batting first is always a great call after winning the toss. 

Weather Report 

Sydney’s weather is mostly cloudy on all days. On Thursday, Scattered showers are expected, but it will not spoil the whole game. The temperature will be around 21 degrees. 

Possible XI 

India 

Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini 

Australia 

Tim Paine (c & wk), David Warner, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head/Will Pucovski, Cameron Green, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood 

Key Players 

India 

Ajinkya Rahane 

This series – Innings: 4, Runs: 181, Avg: 60.33 

R Ashwin 

This series – Innings: 4, Wickets: 10, Avg: 17.70 

Australia 

Marnus Labuschagne

This series – Innings: 4, Runs: 129, Avg: 32.25 

Pat Cummins 

This series – Innings: 4, Wickets: 10, Avg: 17.10