Australia fear they might have let India off the hook on the first day of the deciding Test in Brisbane, according to centurion Marnus Labuschagne.

Number three Labuschagne reached three figures for the first time in the series with a typically diligent 108.

However, he top-edged a pull off debutant seamer Thangarasu Natarajan (2-63) to be pouched by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, shortly after Matthew Wade departed to the same bowler for 45.

Like Wade, Steve Smith was guilty of not capitalising on a start when he became Washington Sundar's maiden Test wicket on 36, although Cameron Green (28 not out) and under-fire captain Tim Paine (38no) got the hosts to 274-5 at stumps with the four-match series all square at 1-1.

"Look, all our batters are going to make their own assessment of the way they got out. They're all international players," Labuschagne said.

"You know everyone gets judged harshly. You're your own harshest critic and everyone will look at their dismissals and say, 'What could I have done better?'

"I'm definitely disappointed about not going on and getting a really big score that would have put us in a better position as a team.

"We'll still take the position we're in, it was really nice to see Greeny and Tim finish it off there when we did lose two wickets in quick succession."

Injuries have laid waste to India's plans over the course of the series and Natarajan and Sundar featured for the first time in the longest format as key men Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah were ruled out.

It meant learning on the fly against unfamiliar opposition, although it was a challenge Labuschagne relished.

"Definitely I had to formulate some plans on the run and keep trying to understand the situation, what they were doing. That's the part of the game that is really enjoyable." he said when considering an India attack that was further compromised by the loss of Navdeep Saini to a groin injury after only 7.5 overs.

"You've got to read the situation out there. You can look at stuff on a screen and see how guys bowl but only you know out there, with a feel of how you can do things and how you can make things easier. "

Not for the first time, Smith was the centre of controversy for alleged gamesmanship on the final day of the drawn third Test, but Labuschagne failed to spot any ill-effects as the pair shared a stand of 70 for the third wicket.

"I don't think when he walks out onto the field that stuff really concerns him. He's focusing on the ball and scoring runs," he added.

"If anything it gives him extra motivation to put big runs on the board. I don't think that stuff comes into play when he's out there at all."

Marnus Labuschagne notched his fifth Test century on an even opening day of the fourth Test between Australia and India in Brisbane.

Labuschagne (108) helped Australia to 274-5 at stumps on day one at the Gabba, where they are unbeaten in their past 31 Tests, on Friday.

The right-hander was dropped twice and punished India, who continued to fight despite their injury woes.

But Matthew Wade (45) and Tim Paine (38 not out) were Australia's next two top scorers, several poor dismissals costing the hosts after they elected to bat first on a warm day, with the captain and Cameron Green (28 not out) unbeaten at stumps.

Thangarasu Natarajan (2-63) and Washington Sundar (1-63) made their Test debuts for India, who were without Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and Hanuma Vihari from the drawn third Test.

Adding to India's worries, Navdeep Saini (0-21) was sent for scans on a suspected groin injury.

After winning the toss, Australia quickly found themselves 17-2 in a poor start in their bid to win a series that is locked at 1-1.

Rohit Sharma took a great low catch diving to his right from first slip to remove David Warner (1) off Mohammed Siraj (1-51), while Marcus Harris (5) handed Shardul Thakur (1-67) his first Test wicket with a flick straight to Sundar at square leg.

Steve Smith (36) and Labuschagne steadied the innings with a 70-run partnership before the former departed after lunch, caught by Rohit at short midwicket off Sundar.

Labuschagne was given two lives – on 37 and 48 – and he made India pay alongside Wade as Australia looked set to take control of the Test.

Since Labuschagne made his Test debut in October 2018, only New Zealand star Kane Williamson (six) has made more centuries than his five.

But Wade and Labuschagne skied deliveries from Natarajan with pull shots to give India a way back into the Test as Australia were left at 213-5.

Paine and Green were relatively comfortable before the latter was dropped on 19, Thakur spilling a tough return chance, and they got to stumps ahead of an important day two.

Australia and India will both make changes for the winner-takes-all-showdown in Brisbane, where a highly eventful series comes to a conclusion with the fourth Test.

The two nations are tied at 1-1 heading into the final game after India, despite being beset by injury issues, successfully batted out the final day to secure a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

There has been little time for rest and recovery for those involved, while much of the media attention in the aftermath has surrounded the on-field behaviour of Australia's current captain, Tim Paine, and the man he replaced in the role, Steve Smith. 

Paine was fined for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during the third Test, though it was his verbal sparring with Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day – plus a plethora of dropped catches behind the stumps – that put him in the spotlight. 

Now, though, the skipper and his side must focus on trying to secure a victory at the Gabba – a venue that holds good memories for Australia but less so India, who have failed to triumph there in six previous visits. 

The hosts will again have a new opening partnership on duty too, with Will Pucovski ruled out due to a shoulder injury after a promising Test debut. Marcus Harris will take his place at the top of the order. 

Australia are set to go with an unchanged attack despite the short turnaround - the previous game finished on Monday - meaning off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play in his 100th Test. 

India, meanwhile, have not given anything away in terms of team selection, though at least two changes will be needed to replace injured duo Ravindra Jadeja, who has had surgery on a dislocated thumb, and Hanuma Vihari.

Jasprit Bumrah is also reportedly a major doubt, potentially leaving the tourists without their leading paceman for the decider. 

"If he can play, he will play," India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Bumrah on the eve of the game. "The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is working with all the players.” 

It has been a busy trip for India's medical staff, that is for sure. Still, whoever takes the field for India will know a draw will be enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 

 

LYON REACHES SPECIAL LANDMARK

Lyon will become the 13th Australian to reach a century of Tests, while he is only four away from reaching 400 wickets in the format.

"I look at the 12 other guys who have played over 100 Test matches for Australia, and they're pure legends in my eyes, not just for Cricket Australia but all around the world," he said ahead of the personal landmark. 

"I'm going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name amongst those players and be the 13th player to do so. It's pretty amazing. I've tried in the past not to look too far ahead, but I'm pretty excited about this one."

His career haul includes dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times apiece, making the India duo the batsmen he has dismissed the most in Tests.

PATCHED-UP INDIA CAN MAKE HISTORY

If India can record a victory and end Australia's 31-Test unbeaten run at the Gabba, they will secure back-to-back Test series triumphs on Australian soil for the first time.

It will be an even more impressive achievement when taking into consideration the absences. Captain Virat Kohli returned home after the first Test, while Mohammed Shami also only played the once.  Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, has not featured at all. Now, with Vihari and Jadeja sidelined, there will be a new-look middle order.

Wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha could both feature; the former had his issues with the gloves in Sydney but made a counter-attacking 97 in the final innings that helped save the Test.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia are undefeated in their last 31 Tests in Brisbane (W24, D7). Their last defeat in such a fixture at the venue came in November 1988.
- A win for Australia in this match would secure three consecutive Test series victories - the last time they achieved such a feat was from November 2015 to February 2016.
- Pat Cummins has a bowling strike rate of 36.4 in Tests in Brisbane, the best of any player to record 500 deliveries there. His best Test innings figures came at the ground, as he claimed 6-23 against Sri Lanka in January 2019.
- Pujara has been removed four times (in six innings) by Cummins during this series, the most instances by any bowler against a batsman; scoring just 42 in response.
- Australia batsmen have been dismissed lbw on 11 occasions in the three previous Tests; India have only been out in that manner three times. All five lbw decisions at the SCG were against the hosts.

Will Pucovski has been ruled out of the fourth Test against India, with Marcus Harris to open for Australia.

Pucovski injured his shoulder during the drawn third Test in Sydney and the opener will miss the final game of the series, which is locked at 1-1.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed on Thursday that Harris would replace his Victoria team-mate for the Test in Brisbane, beginning on Friday.

"He tried to train this morning and didn't quite come up," Paine told a news conference.

"He'll have a bit of work to do with our medicos to see where he goes from here, but he's obviously missing this Test match and Marcus Harris will replace him."

Harris returns for his first Test since the 2019 Ashes and the left-hander has averaged 24.06 in his previous 17 innings at the level.

The 28-year-old scored 355 runs at an average of 118.33 to begin the Sheffield Shield season for Victoria, while he made scores of 35, 25 not out, 26 and five for Australia A against India last month.

Paine is looking forward to seeing what Harris can deliver as Australia aim for a series win.

"[He's] been working his backside off in our hub. He deserves his opportunity," he said.

"He's a really relaxed type of character, so he's one we certainly enjoy having in and around our group."

Australia are unbeaten in their past 31 Tests at the Gabba, winning 24 and drawing seven.

The Gabba is the only venue in Australia where India have played more than once without winning – drawing once and losing five times.

Australia coach Justin Langer slammed the criticism of Steve Smith, labelling it a "load of rubbish".

Smith was questioned after footage showed him standing at the crease and shaping up as if he was batting, including marking a guard, as India survived for a draw on the final day of the third Test in Sydney.

His actions at the crease forced India's Rishabh Pant to retake his own guard before play resumed, with the moment becoming a hot topic on Twitter.

But Langer hit out at the talk about Smith, who was sacked as Australia captain and banned for 12 months following the ball-tampering scandal during the tour of South Africa in 2018.

"I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I read about Steve Smith, absolute load of rubbish," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"If anyone knows Steve Smith, he's a bit quirky. We've all laughed about it for the last couple of years and I've spoken about it privately about how he's a bit quirky. What Steve Smith does at the crease, he does it probably most games, he's just thinking about the game.

"Anyone who suggests for one millisecond he was trying to do something untoward, way out of line, absolutely out of line. On that wicket, it was that flat, and it was like concrete, you need 15-inch spikes to make an indent on the crease and he went nowhere near the crease.

"I thought that was absolutely ludicrous and again in the last couple of years since he's been back, he has been exemplary on and off the field, he has let his bat do the talking, he was abused like I've never seen anything through England and he just kept smiling and letting his bat do the talking, give me a break, give me a break."

Australia captain Tim Paine, meanwhile, apologised on Tuesday for his behaviour during the third Test, including sledging Ravichandran Ashwin.

Langer backed Paine and said the 36-year-old would remain captain for the foreseeable future.

"You have no idea how much faith I've got in Tim Paine. He didn't have his best day, no doubt about that, but after three years, he has hardly put a hair out of place, he has been outstanding as the Australian captain, everything he does," he said.

"He had a frustrating day. We've got to cut him some slack surely. But having said that when you set a standard as high as he does and as we do, we understand we're going to get criticised when we fall below that, it's not what we're about.

"But Tim Paine, outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to come yet. He has my 100 per cent support."

The series is locked at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test starting in Brisbane on Friday.

Fair or foul? Gamesmanship or unsportsmanlike conduct? Steve Smith found himself in the spotlight after his actions on the final day of the third Test between Australia and India in Sydney.

Smith was at his best with the bat in the match, making scores of 131 and 81 as he returned to form in style after a recent lean spell.

However, it may well be his footwork during Monday's final day will overshadow what he achieved during the rest of the Test.

With India battling to save the game, stump camera footage seen on social media showed Smith standing at the crease during a break in proceedings, the Australian shaping up as if he was batting, including marking a guard.

His actions at the crease forced India's Rishabh Pant to retake his own guard before play resumed, with the moment becoming a hot topic on Twitter.

"Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant's batting guard marks from the crease," former India batsman Virender Sehwag wrote to accompany the footage that was seen on the international feed of the broadcast.

Retweeting Sehwag's post, ex-England captain Michael Vaughan added: "This is very very poor from Steve Smith!!". Meanwhile, David Lloyd, who played and coached England before becoming a television commentator, wrote: "How childish".

Pant did not seem too perturbed by what happened, however, going on to make 97 as India impressively secured a draw.

Smith was sacked as Australia captain following the ball-tampering scandal during the tour of South Africa in 2018. Along with team-mate David Warner, he was banned for 12 months from international and domestic cricket for his involvement in the incident.

Cameron Bancroft, who was the player caught by television cameras appearing to use sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball during the third Test against the Proteas at Newlands, was handed a nine-month suspension.

Tim Paine, who took over as skipper of the Test side, was also trending on social media after a verbal exchange with India's Ravichandran Ashwin during the final session of play at the SCG.

Ashwin pulled away before a delivery as he and Paine shared words, their conversation picked up by the stump microphone.

England paceman Stuart Broad pointed out on Twitter that such situations are "part of the game" during a Test match, though did suggest Paine's use of an expletive could land him in trouble.

The wicketkeeper was indeed fined after the game, though lost 15 per cent of his match fee as punishment for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during day three of the match.

Ashwin ended up unbeaten on 39 to help India survive and remain level at 1-1 in the series ahead of the final game in Brisbane.

Tim Paine acknowledged he needed to "set a better example" for those watching on after the Australia captain was fined for showing dissent at an umpiring decision in the third Test against India.

India managed to lose just three wickets as they secured a draw on a dramatic final day in Sydney, leaving the series delicately poised at 1-1 with the one game to play.

Australia missed chances in the field and wicketkeeper Paine, who dropped three catches behind the stumps, became involved in a verbal exchange with India's Ravichandran Ashwin that was caught on the stump microphone.

However, he was punished by the International Cricket Council for an incident that happened on the third day, having questioned a decision to umpire Paul Wilson.

Paine - who was fined 15 per cent of his match fee, as well as having one demerit point added to his disciplinary record - admitted the offence, making clear in his post-match press conference that he did not mean to be disrespectful to Wilson.

"We all know that the stump microphones are part of the broadcast. It's great to bring the viewers that close, [for them] to be able to hear it," he told the media.

"I probably set a pretty poor example with my use of language. I'm certainly disappointed with myself after I heard that.

"We know we've got to be careful. I've known and had Paul umpiring me for some time, I certainly didn't mean to be disrespectful to him. It was just a heat-of-the-moment audible obscenity, I think that's what I've been done for. 

"I need to be better than that. I know that the stump mics are on and I know it's part of the game. 

"There are lots of kids watching the Australia Test team  - I need to set a better example than that."

Paine's frustration came after a not out decision by on-field umpire Wilson following appeals for a catch at short leg, with the call not being overturned following the use of the DRS.

Addressing the incident again later in his media duties, he said: "I think we do want to take the game as close to the fans and spectators as we can. At times, when the stump mics are on, that's going to happen. 

"We try our best but we are not perfect. If the worst thing we have done is let the odd f-bomb go, then I think we're doing okay."

Australia and India now move on to Brisbane for the series decider, with the fourth Test going ahead after the Board of Control for Cricket in India received assurances over quarantine restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Paine admitted he let Australia's bowlers down with three dropped catches as India ground out an unlikely draw in the third Test at the SCG.

India resumed day five on 98-2 with a victory target of 407 and they appeared to be sliding towards defeat when Nathan Lyon dismissed captain Ajinkya Rahane for four.

However, Rishabh Pant gave the tourists hope of pulling off the upset with a phenomenal knock despite dealing with an elbow injury, benefiting from being put down by Paine off Lyon on three and 56.

Lyon removed Pant three runs shy of his century and after Cheteshwar Pujara (77) fell to Josh Hazlewood, heroic defence from Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128) after the former tweaked his hamstring saw India over the line.

Paine also spilled Vihari on 15 late in the final session when he dived to his right, with India sitting at 334-5 at stumps to keep the series level at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test at the Gabba, which begins on Friday.

"I'm bitterly disappointed, I pride myself on my wicketkeeping," said Australia captain Paine.

"I haven't had too many worse days than that today, it's a horrible feeling knowing our fast bowlers and our spinner bowled their hearts out and gave everything to the team.

"I certainly feel I let them down. I have to wear that, but I'll get another crack at it next week so move on.

"We created enough chances to win. I wouldn't say it's deflating, I thought there was a lot of positives out of the game and it was an awesome game of Test cricket.

"India fought bloody hard like we knew they would, clearly we are disappointed not to get a win but thought there were some good signs for us after the Melbourne Test."

Rahane praised Pant for boosting India on a daunting final day and the India skipper is confident the wicketkeeper-batsman will be fit for the fourth Test.

"Yeah, credit to him [Pant]. I mean, we made the strategy, but in the end it's all about that player showing the character," Rahane said.

"It was all about a left-hand-right-hand combination in the middle that worked out really well for us. Credit to him, the way he batted, attacking innings, backed himself really well.

"Rishabh is all right. Injuries, I think, we cannot control. We are just focusing on the Brisbane Test match. [Ravindra] Jadeja, the physios are going to take the call, but apart from that, we have to see how Vihari is feeling. Looking forward to Brisbane now."

India held firm to deny Australia and secure an incredible draw in the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australia looked in position to take a 2-1 series lead, needing eight wickets on the final day at the SCG, but were left frustrated by a stubborn India batting line-up and costly dropped catches.

Rishabh Pant (97), Cheteshwar Pujara (77), Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128 balls) helped ensure India were level heading into the final Test in Brisbane starting on Friday.

The SCG pitch played few tricks on day five, and Pant even had India dreaming of an amazing win, the tourists eventually finishing at 334-5, 73 runs adrift of a victory they stopped chasing after Vihari hurt his hamstring.

Josh Hazlewood (2-39) and Nathan Lyon (2-114) made breakthroughs, but Australia were unable to do enough in a Test they looked destined to win as Tim Paine dropped three catches.

Australia landed an early blow as Lyon had Ajinkya Rahane (4) caught at short leg by Matthew Wade.

But Pant – who suffered an elbow injury on Saturday – was put down twice by Paine, on three and 56, off Lyon, and he counter-attacked superbly to put the pressure on the off-spinner.

Pujara brought up 6,000 Test runs, the 11th Indian to achieve the feat as he continued to frustrate Australia.

Pant looked capable of leading India to a shock victory before falling just short of a third Test century, caught by Pat Cummins at gully after trying to attack Lyon again.

The second new ball brought a key wicket for Australia as Hazlewood produced a wonderful delivery to bowl Pujara.

 

A pair of reviews were unable to get Ashwin, who was dropped on 15, a diving Sean Abbott – on for the injured Will Pucovski (shoulder) – unable to hold onto a tough chance.

Vihari and Ashwin, showing no intent to score, remained stoic and defended well against an increasingly desperate Australia.

Paine dropped another chance after Vihari edged a Mitchell Starc (0-66) delivery and it proved to be the final opportunity as India held on for a draw.

The fourth Test between Australia and India is set to go ahead at the Gabba as scheduled, the hosts have confirmed.

Questions were raised over the location of the Test amid reports players would be forced into a hard quarantine and after Brisbane went into a three-day lockdown.

But with restrictions easing, the Test is set to go ahead as planned, beginning on Friday.

Cricket Australia interim chief executive officer Nick Hockley told SEN on Monday: "I had a call last night from the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] secretary, very late last night, and he confirmed that we are good to travel to Brisbane on Tuesday."

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also confirmed the Test was set to be played.

"Fingers crossed, it looks like everything is going ahead," she told a news conference.

"The Gabba will be filled to half the capacity and masks are mandatory for entering and for leaving and moving around the stadium, but if you're sitting there at your seat, you will not need to wear your mask because you are outside.

"If you're going along to the cricket, take your mask, put it on, most people will be coming by public transport anyway where you'll have to wear your mask."

The news came as Australia were attempting to take a 2-1 series lead to Brisbane as they closed in on victory in Sydney.

Virat Kohli called for "strict action" to be taken after India players claimed they were subjected to racial abuse by spectators during the third Test against Australia at the SCG.

Six people were ejected from the iconic Sydney venue on day four after India paceman Mohammed Siraj reported he was the target of abuse while he was fielding on the boundary.

The India team staff also reported alleged racial abuse of Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on Saturday.

Play was halted for around 10 minutes on Sunday, with umpires and security guards holding discussions before the spectators were removed by New South Wales Police.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) strongly condemned the reported incidents and offered Cricket Australia (CA) all necessary support with an investigation.

India captain Kohli, who is back in his homeland as his wife is expecting a baby, said action must be taken as soon as possible.

He tweeted: "Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It's sad to see this happen on the field.

"The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once."

CA head of integrity and security Sean Carroll earlier said in a statement: "Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council's investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our anti-harassment code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed India have experienced abuse on previous tours of Australia.

"This is my fourth tour to Australia and in Sydney, especially, we have had a few experiences even in the past," he said.

"I think one or two times even the players have reacted and got into trouble in the past, and that's not because of the player, it is actually because of the way the crowd has been speaking, especially the people close to the boundary edge.

"They have been quite nasty, they have been hurling abuse as well, but this is the time they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuse.

"There was an official complaint lodged yesterday, and the umpires also mentioned it to us that we must bring it to their notice as soon as it happens, on the field, and then they will be able to take action.

"It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We have seen a lot, right? We have evolved as a society. This must be definitely dealt with an iron fist. And we must make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Australia are strong favourites to take a 2-1 series lead, as India were 98-2 at stumps on the penultimate day after being set 407 to win.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took crucial wickets as Australia’s bowlers closed on victory on day four of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After Hazlewood removed Shubman Gill for 31 runs, Rohit Sharma fell to Cummins for 52 as an embattled India closed on 98-2, needing 309 more runs for an unlikely win.

Australia had declared on 312-6 after Cameron Green showcased some huge hitting in the afternoon session, surging to 84 off 183 balls, including eight fours and four sixes to set up a tense final session for India.

It was a day of Test cricket once again marred by a crowd incident with play delayed for eight minutes before the tea break while six people were ejected by New South Wales police after India's Mohammed Siraj issued a complaint of alleged abuse to the umpires.

Six people have been removed from the Sydney Cricket Ground on day four of the third test between Australia and India in Sydney.

Play was suspended for eight minutes before tea on Sunday as umpires and security guards attended the boundary area before the six were ejected from the venue by New South Wales Police.

Following the incident, Cricket Australia released a statement on the alleged racist abuse of the India team by a section of the SCG crowd on Saturday.

India’s Mohammed Siraj stopped play on day three to issue a complaint while fielding on the boundary during the afternoon session.

Cricket Austrlia confirmed the incident on Sunday while issuing their statement, although it is not known whether the incident on Sunday was related to racist abuse.

"Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour," said Sean Carroll, Cricket Australia’s Head of Integrity and Security, in the statement.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket.

"CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our Anti-Harassment Code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

Tim Paine hinted David Warner's inclusion for Australia in the third Test against India may not be the only change to the side.

Warner is set to return from an adductor injury when the third Test begins in Sydney on Thursday, and Will Pucovski appears set to make his international debut.

Australia captain Paine confirmed on Wednesday a team had been picked – but he would not publicly name it just yet.

"We've got a team, we're just not releasing it at the moment," he told a news conference.

"The boys are still training at the moment so we'll get through that first unscathed and then we'll try and get a team out as quickly as we can after that.

"Obviously with David playing and potentially more, there's some conversation that need to be had first."

Paine confirmed Pucovski would open if he played, with Joe Burns already omitted from the squad.

That is likely to see Matthew Wade return to the middle-order and Travis Head potentially dropped.

In October and November last year, Pucovski became the first player to score double centuries in consecutive Sheffield Shield innings since Dene Hills in 1997-98.

Paine praised Warner, whose absence has been felt as Australia struggled with the bat in the opening two Tests.

"Davey's been awesome, brings really high intensity, fills guys with confidence around him," he said.

"He's a player that you love having on your side, he's always got plenty to say, really energetic, very professional and I've always loved playing with him and I know he's a player in this team that guys love to have in our side.

"He's made an instant impact with that energy and intensity that he brings.

"Will's been fantastic as well. He's been out of the bubble for a couple of weeks so he's excited, he's fresh, he's been batting really well in the nets and looks ready to go if he was called upon."

Australia will hope the "very likely" return of David Warner can inspire them to regain the series lead as they take on India in the third Test from Thursday.

India produced an impressive turnaround in Melbourne last time out, squaring the series at 1-1 despite being without Virat Kohli and also losing the toss.

Stand-in Ajinkya Rahane stood up in the absence of India's captain, making 112 to set the tourists up for an impressive eight-wicket victory.

However, Australia are undefeated in their last nine Tests against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Indeed, their only defeat in meetings between the teams at the venue came in January 1978.

The hosts reacted to the defeat by dropping out-of-sorts opener Joe Burns, having made just 63 runs in four innings during the series.

Warner and Will Pucovski were both injured and missed the first two Tests but head coach Justin Langer gave a positive update on the former, who he thinks will be able to play through the pain.

Uncapped prospect Pucovski, meanwhile, has passed concussion examinations so will challenge Travis Head for a place in the side.

BUBBLE CONCERN FOR INDIA

India had to isolate five members of their squad as a precaution in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test, amid concerns over a breach of protocols within the bio-secure bubble.

Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw trained away from the rest of the squad after a video on social media showed them dining at an indoor venue in Melbourne.

However, both teams - and members of the support staff - tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Sydney to continue the four-match series.

Rohit has not featured for India on the tour so far due to injury, including missing the white-ball games that preceded the Tests, but could be involved at the SCG.

Batsman KL Rahul is out of the rest of the series with a wrist injury, ending speculation he could replace struggling Mayank Agarwal.

LANGER CONFIDENT OF SMITH RECOVERY

While the expected return of Warner could give them a boost, Australia will also be looking for a turnaround from Steve Smith.

Smith has only managed scores of 1, 0 and 8 during his completed innings in Adelaide and Melbourne, with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin having him caught in two of those three dismissals.

Ranked at three in the ICC rankings, he had only failed to reach double figures in two of his 14 previous innings since returning to Test cricket in the 2019 Ashes.

"Imagine how good we'll be when he does start batting well," said a confident Langer. "That's how I look at it.

"He hasn't had the best of series so far, he'll be the first to admit that, but my gosh, what I know about great players is the longer they miss out, the sooner it is that they're coming good again.

"So that puts a big smile on my face. I don't coach Steve Smith. Steve Smith coaches himself and I'm sure he's going to work it out. 

"He is a great player and I can't wait to watch him bat this Test match and the next Test match."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- India have lost only two of their last nine Tests against Australia (W5, D2) - they now search for back-to-back wins against them for just the second time since 2013.
- Australia's loss in the second match snapped an eight-game winning run in Tests at home; they will now look to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since November 2016.
- The home team dropped eight catches last time out in Melbourne, their most in a single Test since dropping nine against India in the New Year's Test of 2012 in Sydney.
- Ricky Ponting (8) is the only player to have logged more centuries at the Sydney Cricket Ground than David Warner (7) in international cricket.
- No player has taken more wickets (10) or posted a better bowling economy (2.1) than India's Ravichandran Ashwin throughout this series.
- Nathan Lyon is six wickets shy of becoming just the third Australian bowler to take 400 in men's Tests (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath); his 89 wickets against India are his most against any team.

Page 1 of 31
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.