Umesh Yadav featured in the first two Border-Gavaskar Tests at the Adelaide Oval and the Melbourne Cricket Ground respectively. The 33-year old swing bowler from Vidarbha pulled out in the second innings at the Boxing Day Test with a calf injury. He has since then been ruled out from the series and India are left scratching their heads to find the replacement for Umesh Yadav.
The series is set up beautifully for the New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground as both teams come into this game with the series levelled at 1-1. Here’s how both the sides are shaping up ahead of this massive encounter.
The hosts didn’t show up at all in the previous game at MCG. After a win in the first Test, people expected Australians to be ruthless and try to dominate the Indian team without its captain in the second Test. But that never happened. From ball one, the Australians were on the backfoot and credit needs to go to the visitors.
Justin Langer and his management team have some big questions to answer ahead of this match. They have already released Joe Burns from the squad and the news of David Warner’s fitness is pretty positive. The batting has looked clueless against the class of Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin. Steven Smith hasn’t managed to score anything substantial and his form is a big concern for the hosts. With the ball, Nathan Lyon hasn’t shown his real class yet in the series and has been outbowled by his competitor, R Ashwin.
Their batting has to improve in the coming few matches and they have to find ways of scoring quick runs against India and put them under pressure. David Warner will help them improve in the tempo of run-scoring and whether they’ll hand Will Pucovski his debut will be the thing to look out for.
PREDICTED XI: David Warner, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (WK) (C), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
There are two major selection calls to be made by the Indians. Rohit Sharma is available to play and has been handed over the vice-captaincy of the team. It’s certain that he will start in the third game but the question is where would he bat? The other major question which needs an immediate answer is the replacement of Umesh Yadav. Navdeep Saini got the nod over Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan for the spot.
The new year has started on a rocky note for the Indian team in Australia. There were concerns with the biosecure bubble being breached as well as the reluctance of playing the fourth Test at Brisbane, Queensland due to stricter quarantine restrictions in the state. They’ll be hoping that these off the field issues don’t adversely affect the team’s performance on the field. They are coming into the third Test on the back of one of India’s best-ever Test victories in overseas conditions.
Rohit Sharma will replace Mayank Agarwal who has struggled so far in the series and is most likely to open the innings with Shubman Gill. Sharma is yet to open the innings in Test cricket in overseas conditions and this will be an interesting battle to see pan out.
There were three possible candidates who could have been a like-for-like replacement of Umesh Yadav. The three were- Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini and T Natarajan. Thakur has already featured for India in a Test match back in 2018 which was cut short because of an injury. Neither Saini nor Natarajan has any Test match experience and it is certain that Navdeep Saini will make his debut at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground. With Mohammed Siraj already in the playing XI who made his debut in the Boxing Day Test, India will have a pretty inexperienced fast bowling line up.
INDIA XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
David Warner absolutely loves batting at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He has scored four centuries in the eight matches he has played there all of which came in the last five Tests he played at the venue. He averages 66.54 with the bat at this iconic ground and has a century against the Indians back in 2015. He’ll surely be one to look out for from the Australian team.
The last time team India played at the Sydney Cricket Ground they posted a massive total of 622/7 in their first innings. Cheteswar Pujara scored a brilliant 193 and Rishabh Pant smashed a quickfire 159*. Both of them will take positives from their previous experience of playing at the ground. But our pick of the player to watch out for will be Ravindra Jadeja. He got himself a calm 81 in that game back in 2019 and since then, he has been amongst the runs in all formats. He showed his class in the previous match with the bat and will play a much bigger role with the ball in this game. Surely the Australians would be wary of the problems he could create for them on that wicket.
WHERE TO CATCH THE THIRD TEST ACTION
Fans can catch the third Test match live on the Sony network and the live stream on SonyLiv. The ardent fans will have to catch up with their sleep later in the day as the first ball will be bowled at 5:00 AM IST.
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