After suffering a humiliating defeat in the first Test, India made a stunning comeback in Melbourne to level the four-match series 1-1. The Ajinkya Rahane-led side were without Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami in the second Test but the stand-in skipper stepped up and crafted a match-defining century to help India defeat Australia by eight wickets. India also lost the services of Umesh Yadav in the second innings but the other bowlers didn't bog down and bamboozled the Australian batting line-up.
Of late, India have done well against Australia. They have won five of the last 10 Tests and have lost only three, while the remaining two ended in a draw.
Pitch, conditions and team combination
The bowlers have dominated the series so far, with only one century being registered in eight innings. The batsmen however would enjoy batting at the Sydney Cricket Ground, considering it has the best batting average (42.2) amongst all the venues in Australia. The ball generally does not do much here but again, not many batsmen from both sides have been in great form.
The bowling however has been world-class and it would be ideal to have at least four-five frontline bowlers in your XI. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj, R Ashwin, Nathan Lyon and Ravindra Jadeja have all been amongst the wickets and you could literally pick any of them.
The fast bowlers here have a slightly better record than the spinners since 2018 but the surface at the Sydney Cricket Ground is known to assist spinners. The likes of Lyon, Ashwin and Jadeja could all come handly on this surface. Since 2018, the tweakers here have operated at an average of 44.1 in comparison to 41.7 by the pacers.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
The last time Marnus Labuschagne played a Test at the SCG, the right-hander slammed his maiden double century. The fourth-ranked Test batsman smashed 215 against New Zealand in the first innings and followed it up with a score of 59 in the second essay. Labuschagne has scores of 47, 6, 48 and 28 in this series so far but has looked far from his best. However, the surface here would suit his style of batting and Labuschagne would be eager to stamp his authority in Sydney.
Nathan Lyon has only picked up four wickets in this series so far but the offspinner could make a major impact in the third Test. Lyon has picked up 18 wickets at an average of just over 24 in the three Tests he has played at this venue since 2018. The SCG pitch will offer some assistance to the spinners and you could expect Lyon to be amongst the wickets.
With a batting average of 53.57 and a bowling average of 26.9, Ravindra Jadeja has been a top performer for India in Test cricket since 2018. He played a massive role in India's win in Melbourne as he scored a vital half-century, picked up three wickets and also took two crucial catches. Jadeja could easily get into the side as a specialist batsman at No. 6 or 7, but it's his all-round abilities that makes him a "must-have" player. It won't be a bad idea to make him the captain or vice-captain of your side.
R Ashwin has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 17.70 in this series so far. The offspinner has easily outbowled Lyon, something that not many spinners have been able to achieve in Australian conditions. Ashwin has learned from his past mistakes, and with Rahane using him as an attacking option, the 34-year-old could continue to cause trouble to Steve Smith and Co.