Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Date: Thursday, January 7th – Monday, January 11th
We are reaching the tail end of this tour that has seen the Indian team playing in Australia since way back at the end of November 2020. The first stage of the tour was three ODIs, with the hosts taking the first two contests and the tourists picking up a 13 run win in the third when the series was already decided. Those ODIs swiftly – there was a two-day break – transitioned into T20I matches and this time it was the touring squad that took the series 2-1. India picked up wins in the first two matches in Canberra and Sydney before Australia’s short-form specialists salvaged some pride with a 12 run victory in the final T20I game that was also played in Syndey.
This all meant that the honours were basically even heading into the Tests, with the only long-form match that was played before Christmas taking place at the Adelaide Oval. The Test was a remarkable one for the tourists – in all the wrong ways. Lasting only three of the scheduled five days, India led after the first innings after they put up 244 – still a poor score – but better than the 191 the hosts could muster. Then – in their second innings – India were bowled out for 36. Thirty-Six. It is the joint-fourth lowest total ever in international Test cricket and it was the first time in history that every single batsman failed to advance past single digits. Josh Hazlewood bowled an astonishing 5/8 as part of the Aussie attack.
India needed a response in the 2nd Test and after bowling Australia out for 195 on Boxing Day their batsmen went to work. Ajinkya Rahane hit an economical 112 from 223 deliveries as they put up a much more respectable 326 from 115.1 overs. Australia scraped their way to 200 in their second over, but India had no issues chasing down the total for a convincing eight-wicket victory. The series is level a 1-1 and everything is to play for here.
There will likely be at least one change in the Australia team as captain Tim Paine has suggested that David Warner has worked his way back to fitness after a groin injury and will be back at the top of the order. He would be a much-needed boost to a lineup that has looked strangely toothless this series. He may also be joined at the top of the innings by Will Pucovski, himself also having recovered from an injury – a concussion suffered in a pre-series warm-up match.
India will be giving a Test debut to fast bowler Navdeep Saini in the 3rd Test. He will be included in a straight swap of seamers following injuries to both Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. Rohit Sharma will also be back in the tourists’ side after he has recovered from a hamstring injury that cost him the first two matches of the series. He will take the spot of opener Mayank Agarwal and look to give more power to the Indian batting attack.
Even with Warner back – and presumably, at close to full fitness – the 0.65 price on Australia to win with BetXChange feels way too short. The 1st Test went for three days and the 2nd Test made it to four, so a draw looks unlikely here too unless the weather gets involved. India was comfortably the better team in the 2nd Test and their 2.75 price makes them well worth a punt.