Mark Wood led the attack as England boosted their hopes of victory in the second Test as India were reduced to 181-6 by the end of an absorbing fourth day at Lord's.

Holding a slender first-innings lead of 27, England quickly put their opponents under pressure with three early wickets before Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane held up the hosts.

The duo put on a 100-run stand to help ease concerns for India, only for the tourists to then lose three wickets for 20 runs before the close, leaving the game wonderfully poised.

KL Rahul had scored a century on day one but fell for just five second time around, caught behind off the impressive Wood (3-40). Rohit Sharma erased the deficit with two fours and a six, though fell to the same bowler – caught in the deep taking on the short ball – before his side had gone ahead.

However, it was Sam Curran who struck the crucial blow, claiming his first wicket of the series as Virat Kohli was caught by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler after prodding tamely at a delivery outside off stump.

Kohli's departure for 20 left India teetering at 55-3 just prior to lunch, yet England's attack could not make further inroads in the afternoon session.

However, Pujara was eventually dismissed for a battling 45 by a brute of a delivery from Wood, the ball rising off a length to take the edge and be caught by Joe Root at second slip.

Ajinkya Rahane did reach his half-century but became one of two late wickets for off-spinner Moeen Ali, a thin edge ending his knock at 61. Ravindra Jadeja did not last too long, beaten by one that turned to be bowled for three.

Rishabh Pant survived a late trial by spin in fading light to finish on 20 not out, with his continued presence in the middle – and just the tail for company – adding further intrigue ahead of Monday's play.

Digging in

Pujara has had a lean time of it of late, this his highest score since making 73 against the same opponents in Chennai back in February. Indeed, since the start of 2020, he has averaged just 25.95 with no century since the tour of Australia over two years ago.

It took him 35 balls and 51 minutes to get off the mark on Sunday, a long-awaited single greeted by ironic cheers from the crowd and a wry smile from Pujara himself.

Wood makes things happen

England let slip a chance to dismiss Rahane on 31, Jonny Bairstow unable to hang on to a tough diving chance off Ali, but the late clatter of wickets could be crucial in the final reckoning.

Wood started the mini-collapse by ending Pujara's stubborn resistance, fine reward for the pace bowler's perseverance on a sluggish surface. Worryingly, though, he was not on the field at the finish after hurting his shoulder diving to stop a boundary.

Kyle Jamieson and Devon Conway continued their magnificent starts to life in the longest format to put New Zealand in charge of the rain-affected World Test Championship final against India.

A first-day washout at the Ageas Bowl before Saturday's action was truncated by bad light means a positive result might not be possible, even allowing for Wednesday's reserve day.

However, towering seamer Jamieson (5-31) picked up his fifth five-for in eight Tests as India were dismissed for 217 under leaden skies before opener Conway (54) passed 50 for the third time in five innings to help Kane Williamson's men close on 101-2.

A day of New Zealand domination was not necessarily on the cards when India skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane resumed their 59-run partnership with the score 146-3, although Jamieson was quickly on the money.

He nipped one back to trap Kohli in front for 44, unable to add to his overnight score.

Rahane also missed out on a half-century, falling a run shy of the landmark when he popped Neil Wagner (2-40) to Tom Latham at midwicket. That made it 182-6 – Rishabh Pant had grown frustrated at failing to get off the mark for 20 balls before throwing his bat at the 22nd and edging Jamieson to Latham for four.

Ravindra Jadeja (15) and Ravichandran Ashwin (22) offered a modicum of lower-order resistance but Jamieson had his fifth when he pinned Jasprit Bumrah lbw.

Mohammed Shami's average of 47.95 across nine Tests in England is by far his worst in any country, although the India paceman was desperately unlucky not to improve upon those numbers across a 11 probing overs, with Conway and Latham both ballooning edges over the cordon.

Off-spinner Ashwin (1-20) gave one some extra flight to have Latham taken by Kohli at short extra cover for 30, ending a 70-run opening stand.

After bringing up a fine half century to sit alongside 200 and 80 in his debut series against England, Conway will be frustrated to have flicked to wide mid-on when Ishant Sharma overpitched.

Williamson (12 not out) remained when bad light intervened once more – the elements now arguably more likely to deny his side glory as opposed to anything India might muster in Southampton.

Kyle the king of swing and seam

Jamieson might not be the sort of express pace bowler whose emergence on the scene provokes widespread excitement, but he is a relentless performer and his nagging line, length and lift proved perfect in gloomy English conditions. He might race to 50 Test wickets before this game is out, currently on 44 at a remarkable average of 14.13.

India's big hitters come up short

Kohli's review for a plum lbw certainly fell into the L'Oreal category and India's day did not improve. It feels slightly harsh to highlight Rahane, who top-scored when batting was tough, but the manner in which he plonked himself into an obvious trap set by Wagner will gnaw away at him. The richly gifted Pant never looked like matching Kohli and Rahane's efforts during a torturous stay where he appeared completely ill-suited to the situation.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

Rohit Sharma's display of "positive intent" is exactly what India needed as they looked to put their defeat to England in the first Test behind them, explained Ajinkya Rahane.

Joe Root inspired England to an impressive victory in the opening Test of the four-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, but the first day of the second game went India's way.

That was, by and large, down to the supreme efforts of opener Rohit, who scored 161 of India's 300 runs as they finished the day six wickets down.

India's best partnership of the day came when Rohit combined with vice-captain Rahane (67) to put on a crucial 162-run stand after the hosts had been reduced to 86-3 in Chennai.

"I thought it was proper Indian conditions and we knew it [the pitch] would turn from day one," said Rahane.

"We were talking about partnerships – Rohit and [Cheteshwar] Pujara and then Rohit and myself. We were discussing intent – positive intent on this wicket.

"What happened in the first game was [in the] past. You can't be too defensive on this wicket and need to be one step ahead of the opposition.

"We discussed in our batting meeting on what shots to play and we had to make them change the game plan. That's what Rohit did [playing sweeps] – 150-plus on this wicket is really good. I enjoyed the cover-drive against Moeen Ali against the spin."

After striking 18 fours and a pair of sixes, Rohit's aggressive batting eventually proved his downfall, with the opener sweeping Jack Leach to Moeen in the deep.

Rishabh Pant (33 not out) and Axar Patel (five n.o) pushed India to the 300 milestone before play ended, and Rahane believes Virat Kohli's team are one more partnership shy of taking a real edge in the match.

"Add another 50-60 runs from here [will be good for us]. One more partnership from Rishabh and Axar... we're in the game," he added.

"When they were adjusting the pace and bowling quicker through the air, it was difficult."

England spinner Leach finished the day with figures of 2-78, and reflected on a difficult start for the tourists.

"I think it was definitely a hard day," Leach told Channel 4. "[Olly] Stone was back and got an early wicket and Moeen got Kohli out with a magic ball.

"It got a bit easier [to bat] as the ball got older, and you need to get partnerships and that's something we need to hold onto. We were pleased to get wickets in the end and we're in the game.

"I will reflect on my performance in the evening. I tried to bowl in a good area and see how the pitch will react. Sometimes, you need to push it through quicker and as the ball becomes older, [you] need to bowl it quicker.

"It's similar to bowling to Taunton, just pretending it's Taunton! I was cramping up and bit sore in the end – I'll be back tomorrow."

Rohit Sharma hit a brilliant 161 to help India overcome a difficult start to the second Test against England, the hosts eventually ending the opening day on 300-6 in Chennai. 

Opener Rohit combined with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (67) to put on a crucial 162-run partnership for the fourth wicket on a pitch offering considerable help for the spinners from the outset.  

Having so impressively won the opener in the four-match series at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, England seized early control at the same venue when reducing their opponents to 86-3.  

Moeen Ali marked his recall to the XI with the prized wicket of Virat Kohli – who was bowled for a duck – as a much-changed attack prospered in the first session after losing the toss. 

Olly Stone struck with just his third delivery, Shubman Gill paying for his decision not to offer a stroke as he was dismissed lbw, stunning those India fans inside the ground as part of a reduced crowd allowed to attend amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Cheteshwar Pujara made 21 before steering Jack Leach (2-78) to Ben Stokes at slip, while Kohli was left stunned in the next over when Moeen turned one prodigiously through between bat and pad to bowl the India skipper before he had a run to his name.

However, the stand between Rohit and Rahane put the tourists on the back foot. Even when the former eventually fell, sweeping Leach out to Moeen in the deep, India were already on course for a useful first-innings total, considering the conditions.  

Rahane departed soon after, bowled by Moeen when trying an ambitious sweep shot of his own, while England captain Joe Root claimed the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin (13). 

Still, Rishabh Pant carried India to 300 in the final over and will resume on day two on 33 not out. He will have Axar Patel for company, the Test debutant reaching the close unbeaten on five.

Mixed fortunes for Moeen 

England made the tough call to drop Dom Bess despite the off-spinner taking 17 Test wickets in 2021 at an average of 22.20. Root explained the decision was down to a lack of consistency, having only bowled eight overs in India's second innings in the previous game. 

His replacement, however, was by no means more economical. Moeen reached an unwanted century as he finished Saturday's play with figures of 2-112 from his 26 overs, though he did of course dismiss Kohli.

Home comforts for Rohit

Rohit passed 150 for the fourth time in Test cricket, while all of his centuries in the format have come on home soil. This, however, was his first at Chennai.

On a slow, worn surface, the right-hander went along at an impressive scoring rate of 69.70 runs per 100 deliveries, hitting 18 fours and a pair of sixes. In the end, England needed help from the batsman to see the back of him.

England will have a new-look bowling attack on duty for the second Test as they go up against an India side determined to bounce back in the series.

James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Dom Bess were all part of the XI that helped England become the first visiting nation to win a Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai since Pakistan in 1999, ending an eight-game unbeaten streak for the hosts.

However, none of the trio will be involved when the two teams face each other again at the same venue.

While Archer is ruled out with an elbow injury, Anderson has been rested and Bess left out of a 12-man squad. Stuart Broad seems certain to play, with the other seam-bowling spot between Chris Woakes and Olly Stone. Moeen Ali will be the second spinner; the all-rounder has not featured in Test cricket since August 2019.

Captain Joe Root admitted it was not an easy decision to give Anderson a break considering how well he performed in the opener, but England had to look at the bigger picture during such a busy year.

"Everyone's heart was in favour of him being available for this game but also you have to look at the bigger picture and ideally if he is available for two of the last three, that is a huge asset for us with the way he is bowling and his reputation, as well as his numbers and the way he has performed in recent games," Root told the media.

India, meanwhile, head into this match under pressure; they have only ever lost the first two games of a home Test series against England once previously, when they went on to suffer a 3-1 defeat in 1976-77.

Virat Kohli pointed to a failure by the bowling unit to keep England's scoring rate in check in the aftermath of the opening defeat, with slow-bowling duo Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem struggling to provide support for pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, as well as frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Axar Patel missed that match due to a knee injury but came through a fitness test on Thursday. Kuldeep Yadav could also get an opportunity on a pitch that, according to Ajinkya Rahane, will spin from the outset.

"I am sure it will turn from day one," Rahane said on the eve of the game. "We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there."

In a boost for India, there will be fans present for the second of four matches in the series. The ground is allowed to be 50 per cent full, though there will be social distancing measures in place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


Captain Kohli in the spotlight

India have now lost four Tests in a row under Kohli, who departed the tour of Australia after his side had been shot out for 36 to lose the series opener in Adelaide. He returned home for the birth of his first child, with stand-in Rahane then leading the side to a 2-1 triumph.

Kohli made scores of 11 and 72 upon his return to the XI, but those numbers were not enough to stop him slipping to fifth in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings for batsmen.

Root keeps on digging in

Root underpinned England's triumph last time out with a double hundred in a mammoth first innings of 578, in the process continuing his stunning run of form following on from a hugely successful tour to Sri Lanka.

The right-handed batsman has managed 684 runs in his previous three matches, which equates to 39 per cent of his side's total runs in Test cricket in 2021. There have been useful contributions from his top-order colleagues so far overseas, but no other batsman has reached three figures in an innings during the calendar year.

Key match facts

- England have only managed to register one Test series win in India since their 2-1 tour win in 1984-85 - their successful tour in 2012 being the solitary triumph during that period (D1 L4).
- India still lead the head-to-head record with England in Tests played at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, winning five compared to the visitors' tally of four after the series opener (D1).
- England have managed to record six overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match – victory in this game will equal their longest ever run in the format (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).
- Rishabh Pant has a batting strike rate of 70.6 in Test cricket, only two men (with a minimum of 600 runs scored) have higher rates for India (Virender Sehwag at 82, plus Kapil Dev at 81)
- Broad (517) is three scalps away from going into sixth place on the all-time leading Test wicket-takers list, jumping above Courtney Walsh (519); the Englishman has picked up 41 wickets at an average of 14.5 since the start of 2020.

Virat Kohli bristled at the suggestion that Ajinkya Rahane's place in the India batting line-up could be in jeopardy following a heavy first Test defeat to England in Chennai.

Needing an improbable 420 to win, India resumed the final day on 39-1 but Jack Leach (4-76) continued his impressive record in fourth innings and James Anderson (3-17) produced a masterful display of reverse swing to dismiss the hosts for 192.

From the moment visiting skipper Joe Root embarked upon his mammoth first-innings 218, India found themselves in the unusual position of being comprehensively outplayed on home soil.

It left Root's opposite number, Kohli, to field some awkward questions - not least on Rahane, who managed a solitary run in the match and has a highest score of 37 in the seven knocks following his superb century at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test.

That effort saw vice-captain Rahane leading a stunning comeback series win from the front in Australia. India triumphed 2-1 in a four-match rubber following a thrashing in the first Test, after which Kohli went home for the birth of his first child.

"Look, if you're trying to dig something out, you're not going to get anything because there's nothing," Kohli told reporters, seemingly aware how him agreeing to Rahane being under pressure might look in the context of his heroics versus Australia.

"I've said this many times in the past as well - along with Cheteshwar Pujara, he is our most important Test batsman and he is going to continue to be.

"We believe in his abilities, we have believed in his abilities for a long time now and he's an impact player.

"If you're talking about the MCG Test, he stood up and scored a hundred when the team wanted it the most. So, you can look at a number of innings and what happens from thereon, but the reality of the situation is they've won the series in Australia."

As such, Kohli is satisfied his players remain in good form overall and appears unlikely to make wholesale changes for the second Test, which starts back at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

"There's absolutely no issues, everyone's playing really well and we just need to be focused a lot more, understand that Test victories are earned in any conditions - whether they're your own or you're playing away," Kohli added.

"Nothing is a given in Test cricket and we need to be aware of that reality and work together as a team to keep putting a lot of pressure on the opposition. That's our focus." 

Australia face a race against time to win the fourth Test and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy from India after rain wreaked havoc on day four in Brisbane.

Tim Paine's Australia batted for most of Monday and set India 328 for victory in the series decider after the hosts were bowled out for 294 midway through an extended final session.

India were 4-0 when the covers were brought out at 16:35 local time and stayed on at the Gabba, where the tourists require 324 more runs to win but only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar crown, with the series deadlocked.

Australia resumed on 21-0 before Mohammed Siraj – who claimed his maiden five-for – spearheaded a chaotic collapse after the home team lost 34-4 in the morning session.

Openers Marcus Harris (38) and David Warner (48) fell victim to Shardul Thakur (4-61) and Washington Sundar (1-80) respectively, before Siraj stole the show by dismissing Marnus Labuschagne (25) and Matthew Wade (0) within three deliveries – leaving Australia 123-4.

After dropping Steve Smith on 42 and Cameron Green on 14, Siraj held his nerve to claim the prized scalp of the former Australia skipper for 55.

Green (37) did not last much longer as Thakur also sent Paine (27) back to the pavilion, with the Australians 242-7.

After umpires brought the tea break forward due to wet weather, Australia's tail tried to add to the total – Pat Cummins' unbeaten 28 and a quick-fire 13 from spinner Nathan Lyon aiding their cause.

India pair Rohit Sharma (4 not out) and Shubman Gill (0) will return to the crease as the thrilling series heads for a draw.

 

Siraj celebrates maiden five-for

It was a day to remember for Siraj, who broke through for his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

After making his Test debut on Boxing Day in Melbourne, the 26-year-old has made an immediate impact for the touring side.

All eyes on Paine

Has Paine given Australia enough time to win and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy? With wet weather in Brisbane, his decision to bat for much of the penultimate day before being bowled out has raised questions.

More rain is forecast for Tuesday.

Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar halted Australia's momentum before India were bowled out for 336 on a frustrating day for the hosts in the fourth Test at the Gabba.

Australia appeared on track to clean up India's batting line-up and maintain a healthy lead on day three of the final match after leaving the tourists in a perilous position of 186-6, but unheralded pair Shardul (67) and Sundar (62) put on a remarkable 123-run stand.

Josh Hazlewood's five-wicket haul finally helped put an end to India's stubborn resistance – Australia heading into their second innings with a 33-run advantage on Sunday.

David Warner (20 not out) and Marcus Harris (1 not out) saw out the remaining half-hour of play to lead Australia to 21-0 at stumps, a lead of 54 runs, as Tim Paine's side face a race against time to win the Test and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

After rain wreaked havoc on Saturday, India resumed 62-2 in response to Australia's first-innings 369 in Brisbane, where Hazlewood (5-57) and Mitchell Starc (2-88) managed to claim the prized scalps of Cheteshwar Pujara (25) and captain Ajinkya Rahane (37) in the morning session.

Hazlewood removed Mayank Agarwal (38) with the second delivery after lunch, and the Australia star almost dismissed Rishabh Pant (23) to leave India 186-6.

But Shardul and Sundar combined to sensationally thwart Australia, who toiled tirelessly before eventually bowling out India.

Star Australia opener Warner then raced out the blocks with a quick-fire 20 runs, including three boundaries, to navigate a tricky end to the day.

 

India duo come to the rescue

A remarkable seventh-wicket stand kept Australia at bay and clawed India within touching distance of the hosts' first-innings total.

It was an unlikely pairing that rescued India – Sundar celebrating a half-century on his Test debut, while Shardul also raised his bat for a maiden Test fifty.

Hazlewood huffs and puffs

For the second time in the blockbuster series, Hazlewood recorded a five-for against India.

It was far from easy for Australia, but Hazlewood battled as Pujara, Agarwal, Pant, Navdeep Saini (5) and Mohammed Siraj (13) fell victim to the fast bowler.

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."

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.

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