Fourth Test of the four-match series between India and Australia
January 6 to 10, 2014
Sydney Cricket Ground
The Teams India
India embark upon a new journey in Test cricket. With MS Dhoni calling it quits from whites, it is now time for young Virat Kohli to galvanise a side that is trying its best to find its feet overseas. This has not been a series that has seen India stoop into submission; this is the new face of an Indian side that looks determined and has the potential to do well in foreign shores. If Virat Kohli’s pre-match press conference is anything to go by, one can be rest assured that positivity will come to the fore at the fourth and the final Test of the series at the SCG. Though the series is lost, India have everything to play for, ring in changes, try different combinations and hope to end the series on a high. India have managed to salvage a draw at the MCG but at the same time given away results that could have gone in that favour. Lessons learnt, time spent on the drawing board, mistakes rectified; India need to put all of it in practice if they garner hopes of ending the series with a win under their belt. If team combinations are to be taken into consideration, there is a chance that Suresh Raina could get a nod in the playing eleven. That move would mean leaving out KL Rahul or making him open the innings and showing Shikhar Dhawan the door. In MS Dhoni’s absence, Wriddhiman Saha is expected to do the glove work. India have the time to rack their brains and put up the best possible eleven ahead of the coin toss at Sydney.
After three gruelling Test matches, leaving aside emotions of a tragedy and channelizing their thoughts on the job at hand, Australia return to the SCG with a couple of wins in their bag. Victories and personal milestones have been brought up as a tribute and in remembrance of Phil Hughes and it will be an emotional homecoming of sorts for the Aussie line-up. It has charged them thus far to put forth their best and SCG will be no different. One can expect the Aussies to come out all guns blazing and put a fitting end to the series. Apart from Mitchell Johnson’s injury that has ruled him out of the final Test, Australia have no other concerns. Mitchell Starc has been named his replacement and will be looking forward to make this opportunity count especially after a dismal performance at the Gabba. Apart from Starc’s performance Australia have nothing much to worry about with Nathan Lyon doing the bulk of the damage with his spin and the batting line-up complementing it effectively. 2-0 up in the series and they will leave no stone unturned to take that reading one notch up and lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with pride. Key Players
With 348 runs in six innings at an average of 58, Ajinkya Rahane has shown what he can do with that bat in his hand. He has played with a stable head on his shoulders, tried his best to rectify the mistakes of the past and enjoyed the process of being a better middle-order bat with each passing Test. Rahane lends a perfect cushion to a frail middle-order and will play a key role in holding the batting order together especially with the exit of MS Dhoni. He displayed his class at the MCG with a masterful 147 in the first innings and the team would want a repeat of his batting prowess in the final Test.
Ryan Harris has been an absolute work horse throughout his Test career and it was no different in the third Test at the MCG. He played a crucial hand lower down the order with the bat scoring 74 and giving his captain Steven Smith perfect company and in the process Australia scored 500-plus. Harris returned with the ball magnificently ending up with 6 wickets in the match. Harris has Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc for company in the pace attack and with the absence of Mitchell Johnson in the attack, Harris will have to lead from the front.
2. Result summary at Sydney:
Won by side batting 1st
Won by side batting 2nd
3. Average first innings score at Sydney:
Since 2000 – 345
4. Average second innings score at Sydney:
Overall – 311
Since 2000 – 411
5. Last meeting between both sides at Sydney:
Brief scores: Jan 3-6, 2012 India 191 & 400 Australia 659-4d
Australia won by an innings and 68 runs 6. Form guide (most recent listed first):
India: Drawn, Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost
Australia: Drawn, Won, Won, Lost, Lost
7. Pace vs Spin at Sydney (who has been more effective) (since 2000)
Virat Kohli has aggregated 499 runs in the series so far. He will become only the second batsman to aggregate 500 runs in a four-match series against Australia in Australia after Rahul Dravid, who made 619 in 2003-04.
Steven Smith has scored a hundred in each of three Tests of the series. Another hundred and Smith will establish a new Australian record of hundreds in most consecutive hundreds against India. Incidentally only one player- Pakistan’s Younis Khan – has scored hundreds in four consecutive Tests against India.