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Australia vs India Third Test Preview: Warner's return to revitalise the Kangaroos
- Australia host India in Sydney for the third Test starting on 7th January
- The series is leveled 1-1 after Australia won in Adelaide and India in Melbourne
- Australia have won eight of their last nine home Tests
- Australia have won seven and drawn three of their last ten Tests in Sydney against Asian nations
- India have won only one of their 12 Tests in Sydney, losing four
Australia will hope the traditional Pink Test in Sydney will bring them back into a series lead (Getty Images)
India staged a dramatic comeback in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne to defeat Australia by eight wickets. The four-Test series is now level 1-1 going into the third Test in Sydney starting from the 7th January. All eyes will be on Australia’s opener David Warner with his anticipated return expected to change things for the hosts.
Australia’s batsmen struggled for runs throughout the series and that remains their major problem. They have been bowled out for 191, 195, and 200 inside two Tests highlighting the brittleness of their batting order. Only Tim Paine and Joe Burns have made 50s in the series, while only Paine and Marnus Labuschagne are averaging more than 30.
Question marks hover around Travis Head’s place in the side as the anticipated return of David Warner will push Matthew Wade down the order.
Will Pucovski is given a medical all-clear to play the match which is good news. Fast bowler James Pattinson is ruled out of the series, but there are very little chances of any changes in the Aussie bowling line-up. If Pucovski gets a chance to debut, Head could be shunted out of the side.
Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane played one of the best Tests of his career and is the lone centurion in this series so far. India are yet to find a code to their opening woes, though, although Shubhman Gill had an encouraging debut in Melbourne.
Injuries continue to hurt India, however, as Umesh Yadav is also ruled out of the series. A final playing XI chance beckons Shardul Thakur, although a left-field debut for left-arm seamer T Natarajan is not out of the way.
The return of Rohit Sharma from quarantine is the best news for India and he is confirmed to play the Sydney Test. Whether it will be as an opener or in the middle-order is still up for discussion. Mayank Agarwal has struggled for impact and scores of 17, 9, 0, and 5 suggest he could be the one under threat. Umesh Yadav’s spot could go to Shardul Thakur, who is also expected to add a few late-order runs.
Australia vs India Head-to-Head
The Melbourne ‘Boxing Day’ Test was the 50th between Australia and India in Australia, with the hosts retaining a 30-8 advantage. Even in Sydney, Australia boast of a formidable 60-28 win-loss record in 108 Tests.
Australia have lost only once to India in 12 Tests at this venue, winning five and drawing six. Crucially, four of those wins have come with an innings margin.
Australia vs India Match Up
India found their mojo and balance in Melbourne which served them well. Ravindra Jadeja’s batting is a huge plus, while the return of Rohit Sharma is expected to add more muscle. Australia will be eager for David Warner’s return considering the paucity of runs in the top-order. This Test will be crucial for Smith and Marnus Labuschagne also, as they aim to get back amongst the runs. Both bowling units look formidable and batting once again will be the differentiator.
Australia vs India Stats
- Australia have won seven and drawn three of their last ten Sydney Tests against Asian nations.
- Australia haven’t lost their first Test of a calendar year since 2011, winning six and drawing three hence.
- India have won just one of 12 Tests in Sydney, drawing six and losing four.
- David Warner averages 65.94 in Australia and scored 786 runs at 131.00 average last home summer.
- Steve Smith has scores of 1, 1*, 0, and 8 in this series so far for an average of 3.33.
Both Australia and India have struggled with their batting and it will be interesting to see how the improvements will come. Cheteshwar Pujara and Steve Smith had a poor series so far and both will be eager to come good. Another close battle is on the cards and Australia will hope that the return of Warner will help them edge that.
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