Our prediction is that India will win the fourth and last Test at Sydney to win the series 3-1!
Superb first innings batting by Pujara and Kohli to get India to a formidable 443 and then, pace and accuracy shown by the Indian quicks, especially Jasprit Bumrah, have put India on the verge of their first Test series win in Australia.
After playing the game of attrition for the first two days on a flat looking pitch, with occasional false bounce, the match turned into a quickfire battle on the third and fourth day on an uneven and deteriorating pitch. Only 7 wickets fell in on first 2 days followed by 15 and 11 on day 3 and 4.
After toiling in the field for almost 2 days Australia looked helpless against Bumrah and co and never looked set make a comeback once they were rolled out for 151 in the first innings. The hosts must be hoping for a better performance from their batters at the SCG as they look to square the series
The pre-series predictions and fears are becoming true for the Aussies. Psychologically they will be at their worst at Sydney. After an inspired win at Perth, Australia lost to India for the first time in a boxing day test and are staring at a probable maiden series loss to India at home.
Despite the green surface at the MCG India chose to Bat first and piled on 443 at snail’s pace in 170 odd overs. Aussies tired of that effort in the field could only muster 151 owing to a deteriorating pitch and relentless Indian bowling. The 292-run lead proved too much in the end that, despite Indian collapse in the second innings inspired by Cummins and a session lost to rain, Australia could not save the Test.
Cummins was Australia's best player hands down at the MCG. Australia would be hoping for a major contribution from him at Sydney as well. Finch and Mitchell Marsh's place in the XI looks dicey with Marnus Labuschagne added to the squad for the final Test.
Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne.
India are on the cusp of making history in Australia. After correcting the selection errors made at Perth and piling on 443 in the first innings, there was hardly a moment when India did not look like winning the match at the MCG. Another patient century by Pujara and an equally patient 82 by Kohli set up the game for the Indian bowlers to have the final say in the match.
Mayank Agarwal had a dream debut who made handy contributions in both the innings and looks set to open for India at the SCG. Jasprit Bumrah finally had the numbers to justify the kind of bowling performances he has produced in this series. Unsurprisingly, he was the man of the match.
With Rohit back home India might look to play Vihari at six and KL Rahul should return to his opening slot. Ashwin, if fit, should be back to the squad else Ravindra Jadeja will continue to play
Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin/Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari.
The pitch at the SCG has traditionally supported spin bowlers. This is highlighted by the fact that Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill are the highest wicket-takers at this venue.
The team winning the toss should opt to Bat first here as the teams batting first have traditionally won more (43%) matches here than the ones batting last (38%).
India will be staring at history at the SCG. But looking that far ahead is only going to make the situation nervy. India should take it session by session and the history will take care of itself. Australia, on the other hand, are looking to salvage some pride but the selection conundrum isn’t making it any easier for them.
Our prediction is that India, buoyed by the victory at the MCG, would press on to register their first ever Test series win in Australia at the SCG by winning the fourth and the last Test of the series.
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