Australia are coming off an embarrassing loss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). They threw away the advantage of winning the Adelaide Test by playing poor cricket at the MCG and allowed India to bounce back and level the four match series 1-1.
The third test starts on Jan 7 at the SCG and it is a very important test for both teams. Australia will want to win and take an important 2-1 series lead and also get their 2021 test campaign started off on a winning note. The Aussies go in as favorites with betting odds of 8/11 against India who has odds of 3/1.
We take a look at five reasons as to why Australia should have the upper hand against India at the SCG.
Return of David Warner
Australia has had opening problems just like India in both tests. Joe Burns has been terribly out of form and has been dropped for the remainder of the series. It looks like veteran batsman David Warner will make his return at the SCG even though he is not one hundred percent recovered.
Australia need to win at all costs and it appears likely that the selectors will take the gamble and play Warner at the SCG. Warner not only brings a lot of stability to the top order but he also has the ability to score quick and take the game away. Warner could end up partnering Matthew Wade or have a new batting partner in the young Will Pucovski who might make his debut at the SCG.
The New Year’s test traditionally takes place at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and Australia has a good record at the SCG. The last time the Aussies lost a test at the SCG was a decade ago when they lost to England in 2011.
While Australia does have a good record at the SCG, they will also know that the last two times they played India at the SCG (2015 and 2019), both matches ended up in a draw. The last test match Australia played at the SCG was against New Zealand in 2020 and they won it convincingly by 279 runs.
The former Australian captain has not had much of an impact in the series so far. R Ashwin has got the better of him so far and that has made all the difference for India. However, Steve Smith has a great record at the SCG and averages over 60 at this ground. Smith is a world class player that is likely to find his form at any time and the SCG which is also his home ground.
India’s opening batsmen have also struggled like Australia. India dropped P Shaw in the second test and could end up dropping M Agarwal for the third test and replace him with R Sharma. While R Sharma is the more experienced player, he has had not match practice in Australia and is coming in cold after being in quarantine.
If Australia can dismiss R Sharma or M Agarwal (should he play) early on, they will once again be able to have a crack at the middle order.
India Bowling Troubles
Australia will be playing at full strength in the bowling department with Starc, Cummins, Hazelwood and Lyon. India do not have that luxury as they came to Australia without the services of Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. They lost Mohammed Shami after the first test due to a broken hand and lost Umesh Yadav during the second test due to a calf injury.
India will play M Siraj who is just one test old and debut either T Natarajan or N Saini at the SCG. Australia should look to capitalize on the inexperienced seam bowling attack.