3rd Test preview: Will a New Year and a rejuvenated Team India break the 43-year drought at SCG?
India's last Test win at the Sydney Cricket Ground came 42 years ago. Will 2021 be the year of redemption? Will stand-in Skipper Ajinkya Rahane and his boys be able to pull off a victory that Team India have been in the hunt for ever since 1978?
After a massive debacle at Adelaide where India got bundled out their lowest Test total (36), they bounced back strongly at the Boxing Day Test with an 8-wicket win to equalize the 4-match series 1-1. Captain Rahane, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja showed fine form to guide India to a comprehensive victory.
The bowling unit fired in unison too restricting Australia within 200 in both innings. Debutant Md Siraj kept troubling the Aussies with his nagging line and length along with Jasprit Bumrah while R Ashwin and Jadeja extracted a lot from the fresh turf to spin their web.
Going into the Sydney game, India will be looking to end their winless streak at the ground, where they have drawn six and lost five. India have the highest ever total by a team (705/7d 1st innings in 2004) at SCG, but their overall records look far from being impressive. Having said that, India have drawn both of their last two Tests in this venue. Cheteshwar Pujara's 193 in 2019 is the highest score by a current Indian player on this Ground and the team will certainly expect him to get back to form with another fine knock.
Rahane, who scored a century (112) in the first innings at MCG, is on the threshold of equaling a record of MS Dhoni. He has got a 100 per cent win record as a captain so far and a victory in Sydney would mean Rahane leveling Dhoni's milestone of winning the first four Tests as captain.
Meanwhile, India have a good news as Rohit Sharma is back in the fold after a long quarantine in the town in the midst of a fresh COVID outbreak that has forced the Cricket Australia to reduce the spectators capacity to just 25 percent at SCG. He will come in for Mayank Agarwal, and is going to be opening batting with Shubman. A couple of injury concerns, however, may keep the Indian think-tank a little alert - first being Umesh Yadav's calf muscle injury and the other being KL Rahul's unavailability due to a wrist injury. Navdeep Saini is set to replace Umesh in the XI.
Australia most likely will get David Warner's service if he clears his routine fitness Test. The hosts' top and middle order struggled badly in the second Test and we won't be surprised if we see a few changes introduced in their line up for the third.