To win against the odds is the hallmark of champions. And India’s victory at Melbourne, without an iota of doubt, was the stuff of champions. A Test victory for a subcontinent nation Down Under is inevitably special, and that the one in Melbourne came in the backdrop of India’s horror show at Adelaide and a good bunch of players missing from their ranks due to a variety of reasons/injuries, only adds to specialness.
The series stands evenly poised and even as there are some clouds of uncertainty hovering over the venue of the fourth and last one, the trimming of the four-match series to three is highly unlikely. To live with and in uncertainty has been the norm of life of late, and it should not be a surprise anymore that there are a few more uncertainties before the two teams head into the third Test at Sydney. India, who have been panting with the ever-growing list of injuries, has a new addition to the list: KL Rahul is unavailable due to a wrist sprain that he picked in the nets.
However, this is not the end of trouble for Indians, who are severely depleted in the pace column. As if the absence of Ishant Sharma and the subsequent ouster of Mohammed Shami was not enough, India now no longer have access to Umesh Yadav. That said, a back-from injury Rohit Sharma – who also happens to be the deputy to Ajinkya Rahane in the following games – is set to return in what is an enormous plus for the team. While his inclusion in the team is certainly one hurray moment, the positioning headache that came along was quite not. Sharma is returning to Test cricket after more than a year (he missed the New Zealand tour and the first two Test here due to injuries).
He was in a prolific form that last time he ever wore whites, and the scores of 176, 127, 14, 212, 6, and 21 in series against South Africa and Bangladesh attest to that. That said, Rohit was playing as a designated opener, and unlike those two series, the current one is an away series, where Rohit is yet to open ever. The speculations of whether he would open alongside Shubman Gill or would India use him in the middle-order, resting the opening duties with Hanuma Vihari, much like Melbourne 2018, were answered by skipper Ajinkya Rahane on the eve of the third Test. Although for Rohit, who has had a challenging ride in the recent past, the test will be only tougher as he resumes action straightaway against a formidable Australian attack in their backyard.
There are murmurs in the opposite camp too, and going by Head Coach Justin Langer’s statement, David Warner is “very, very, likely” to play, even if he is not fully fit. If he does play indeed despite not being 100 percent, it will highlight how dire the situation in the Australian camp is and how little faith they have in other available options. Australia, who have dropped Joe Burns owing to poor form, might opt for a double-change in the opening combination as Will Pucovski has been given a green signal after his concussion debacle and will step out with Warner in a new-look opening partnership for Australia.
There is plenty to watch out for in Sydney, as would always be the case with the Border-Gavaskar trophy, especially when paused at 1-1.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Sydney has historically helped the spinners, and this spices up the competition more with two modern greats – Ashwin and Lyon – on either side. That said, slightly overcast weather does give pacers a fair bit to look forward to. India last won a Test at Sydney ages ago in 1978, whereas the previous two meetings – 2015 and 2019 – have both ended in a draw.
Playing combinations for AUS vs IND
Despite not having opened in an away series yet, Rohit Sharma was clearly the most ideal contender alongside Shubman Gill with Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, and Hanuma Vihari following. Umesh Yadav’s exit opened the door for another debut and out of the three candidates – Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, and T Natarajan – to partner Bumrah and Siraj, Navdeep Saini has been the one chosen by the management.
Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Mohammad Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah
With Joe Burns dropped, Australia is certain for one at least change at the top. If Warner and Pucovski hold the slot of openers, Matthew Wade needs to be pushed lower in the order. Given his recent run of form, the one who ideally will pave way for Wade in the team should be Travis Head.
Probable XI: David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (C & WK), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
AUS vs IND Head to head
Played – 100 | India – 29 | Australia – 43 | Draw – 27 | Tied – 1
AUS vs IND Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 5:00 AM (IST)
TV – Sony Sports Network
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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