After both Australia and India winning the first two Tests respectively, the focus now shifts to Sydney for the third Test. A result for either of the teams in their favor will help them take the lead in the series. The SCG finally was selected as the venue for the third Test after reports said that, Melbourne is the likely venue for the game. Sydney thus now is the center stage of action. More about the third Test Preview in detail below.
A lot has happened with the Indian team in the build-up to the third Test in Sydney. From players being ruled out of the last two Tests to them being disrespected from the opposition camp, Team India was through a tumultuous time.
Rohit Sharma joined the team after finishing his mandatory quarantine. His addition is a big plus in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli. He was also elected as the vice-captain of the last two Tests. A lot of good things were written about Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy and how is he shaping up for the third Test.
Despite the trouble that the team was through in the past week, there is a good spirit within the team as they have started their preparations. However, the loss of two key players have made the team management search for options.
Umesh Yadav and KL Rahul were ruled out of the Test series. Rahul was likely to be picked for the third Test, however, he injured his left wrist while batting which has brought curtains to his availability in the series. T Natarajan was called into the team after Umesh Yadav was ruled out of the last two Tests.
The batting, however, looks good with Shubman Gill scoring important runs in his debut Test. He will be joined by Rohit Sharma at the top now that KL Rahul is ruled out. This also means Hanuma Vihari will hold onto his place at well and bat at number five. Rishabh Pant and the two all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin complete the batting order.
Meanwhile, there are injury concerns in the opposition camp as well. Australia after the defeat in Melbourne are back to playing mind games. They have also tried to get under the skin of the Indians with their comments on India’s initial wish to not travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test.
David Warner is likely to play the third Test, which comes as good news for Justin Langer. The Australian openers have hardly produced any runs and Warner’s comeback is expected to change that. The team will also need runs from Steve Smith’s bat. He has just scored 10 runs from four innings.
Their bowling attack looks the stronger aspect of their overall game. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon form a terrific combination and should have plans in place to trouble the Indian batsmen.
Just One Win For India at SCG, Australia Five
Both teams have won a game each it is difficult to say which team holds the edge heading into the third Test. However, as per stats Aussies have five wins over their Indian counterparts at this venue, while India have just one.
Head to Head
Out of 100 Test matches played between the two teams since 1947, Australia have won 49 games while India have won 29. While 27 of the matches have ended in draws. The latest win for the Indian team was in the Boxing-Day Test in Melbourne.
Pitch & Weather Conditions
The Sydney pitch has always been a good one for batting. The likes of VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar have played their best knocks on Aussie soil at this very venue. The pitch is expected to be a good one for batting. While the initial phase against the new ball would be tough, the batsmen should feel at ease in the middle once they get themselves set.
Spinners will come into play once the match carries on. The weather is expected to be cloudy for the first two days, while sunny and bright for the last three.
KL Rahul is the latest Indian player to be ruled out for the last two Tests. Rahul, Shami, and Umesh along with Ishant Sharma are the players unavailable for India in the last two Tests. Rohit Sharma and Natarajan are the two names who have been added to the squad alongside Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur. However, the team management went with Navdeep Saini for the third Test handing him a debut cap.
Meanwhile, David Warner returns to Australia at the top-order. This will bring a huge sense of relief to the team. Smith would like to make up for the loss in the last two Tests. With Travis Head hardly making any substantial contribution, someone like Moises Henriques can replace him in the XI. His all-round abilities can be crucial for the team. Also, he can be used with the ball to give the regular bowlers a break.
Tim Paine (C), Joe Burns, Cameron Green, Will Pucovski, Steven Smith, David Warner, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Moises Henriques, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Sean Abbott, James Pattinson, Mitchell Swepson
Ajinkya Rahane (C), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur