An injury-laden India defied the odds to salvage a memorable draw at Sydney. After two Tests dominated by the ball, the relatively flatter wicket helped the batsmen more as both sides registered their highest totals of the series.
The venue of the last Test – Gabba in Brisbane – is known to be Australia’s fortress. They have not lost a Test here since December 1988.
Pitch, conditions and team combination
The reason for the Gabba being the fortress for Australia has been the assistance it offers to the pacers. Among venues with four or more Tests in Australia since 2016, pacers have the best balls per record of 53.1 at Gabba.
This is in stark contrast to the assistance for the spinners who have a record of 95.2 balls per wicket in this period. In no other major Test venue in Australia is the difference between pace and spin this wide.
Based on this statistic, it is advantage Australia who have all their three main pacers fit to play. India on the other hand will be without Jasprit Bumrah and thus without any of the pacers from the winning side from 2018-19.
Having said that, batting here has not been that big an issue for the home side who have two scores in access of 400 in the last two Tests they have played here. They won both these Tests by an innings.
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 Gabba he was the player of the match. He has been the leading run-scorer (1671) in Tests since 2019 and also the leading run-scorer in the series (293). Playing at a crucial position at number three he is the only Australian batsman to get a start in almost every innings so far in this series. Given a possibly weaker bowling attack for India, no other player can be a safer choice.
With 15 wickets to his name, Pat Cummins is the leading wicket-taker in this series. These have come at impressive 44.5 balls per wicket, the best among bowlers who have played all the Tests so far. He has troubled every Indian batsman and a wicket seem imminent when he is bowling. His record of 36.4 balls per wicket at the Gabba since 2016 is also the best among all bowlers who will be playing the fourth Test.
Ravichandran Ashwin has picked up 12 wickets at an average of 28.8 in this series so far. The offspinner has easily out-bowled Lyon – who has had his worse series at home ever. Ashwin has learned from his past mistakes, and with Rahane using him as an attacking option, the 34-year-old has troubled Steve Smith and Co. The flat pitch in Sydney did not help him much but, the bouncier track at the Gabba might be to his advantage.
Rohit Sharma’s Test career has been on a revival since his elevation the opening slot. Even when he was short of game time, he looked comfortable in the role in alien conditions in the last Test. Learning from his two errors in the last Test, we might witness a Rohit Sharma special in the series finale.