The 3rd Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia is all set to kick off at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 7th January 2021 amidst all the uncertainty of the growing COVID-19 cases in the state. The series is currently leveled up at 1-1 after India made a terrific comeback in the 2nd Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after a major setback in the first test at the Adelaide Oval where we witnessed the Indian team get bundled out for a mere 36.
India played the 2nd Test at the MCG without the services of their skipper Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane had to step in as the skipper of the remainder of the series, he had the duty to fill in for Virat’s responsibilities which Rahane did at his very best as the stand-in skipper notched up a ton in the first innings to grant India the initial advantage in the match.
As soon as the second Test ended at the MCG, India received a massive boost as they were joined by Rohit Sharma after serving his 14-day quarantine in Australia. But as soon as Rohit joined the squad, he ended up in a vague controversy as he along with four other players were put under investigation for a potential bio bubble breach in Melbourne.
Rohit Sharma returns to the playing XI
It all started when a fan tweeted about him paying the food bill of the Indian cricketers after he spotted them dining at a restaurant. The fan, by the name of Navaldeep Singh, paid their $118 bill at Secret Kitchen Chinese restaurant at Chadstone Shopping Centre which he was seen flaunting on Twitter.
The five players were isolated from the rest of the squad but later joined back once the entire Indian team tested negative for COVID-19. The Indian team was looking dicey when Umesh Yadav was ruled out of the series after injuring himself during the second Test. As a result, T Natarajan was added to the Test squad as a replacement for the injured Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Though none of them made to the playing XI for the 3rd Test as Ajinkya Rahane announced that Navdeep Saini has replaced the injured Umesh Yadav whereas Rohit Sharma was all set to replace Mayank Agarwal after averaging just 7.75 in 4 innings.
On the other hand, Australia will also be fielding a couple of changes from the side that featured in the 2nd test. Joe Burns was axed from the squad for his poor show in the recent past, David Warner is all set to mark his return for the first time in this Test series whereas subsequently, Will Pucovski will most likely open the batting alongside Warner.
In the pre-match press conference, Paine hinted that Australia would be looking to make a few changes to the side which is why it remains to see if Australia bench either one of Matthew Wade, Travis Head, or Cameron Green to accommodate the two openers at the top.
Other than this no other change is expected in the side, though it possible that Australia can look to give Michael Neser a chance since he’s looked lethal in the practice sessions.
Australia vs India 2020: 3rd Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground start from 5:00 AM IST
India – Rohit Sharma (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj
Australia – David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade / Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Match Prediction – Who will win the match?
The Australian side will be eager to make a comeback at the Sydney Cricket Ground after suffering a defeat in the second test. Steve Smith, David Warner, and Marnus Labuschangne’s form will be crucial as it will decide the fate of the Aussies in this series.
India‘s record at the Sydney Cricket Ground might just help Australia with the cause as the last time India won at the SCG was 43 years ago, way back in 1978. Also adding the matter of fact that India’s pace attack is inexperienced with a total of 17 test matches, with Mohammed Siraj having played just 1 test match whereas Navdeep Saini will be making his debut at the SCG.
Both sides have a disadvantage going into the 3rd test with Australia’s top order looking unsettled at the moment while India’s pace attack might just be a worry for them, though the return of Rohit Sharma into the side might have instilled some confidence into the Indian setup.