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.

David Warner has apologised to the India team and said he would "expect better" from Australia fans after the tourists were allegedly subjected to racial abuse 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 tourists also reported alleged racial abuse of Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on Saturday.

Play came to a halt 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 showed great application to bat out for a draw on the final day and Australia opener Warner offered praise along with an apology to Ajinkya Rahane's side on Tuesday ahead of the series decider at The Gabba.

He posted on Instagram: "It was great to be back out on the park again this week.

"Was not the ideal result for us but this is what Test cricket is all about. 5 days of tough cricket and well done to our guys for working as hard as we could, congrats to India in the way they fought hard for the draw, and that's why we love this game, it's not easy.

"Move onto Brisbane now for the decider and what a place the Gabba is to play at.

"I’d also like to say sorry to @mohammedsirajofficial and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd."

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.

David Warner admitted it was unlikely he would be fully fit for Australia's third Test against India, but the opener is hoping to play.

Warner has missed the opening two Tests of the series, which is locked at 1-1, due to an adductor injury.

The left-hander's return in Sydney, where the third Test begins on Thursday, would be a huge boost to Australia's struggling batting line-up.

But Warner said on Saturday it was unlikely he would be at full fitness for the clash.

"We've got a training session today and tomorrow so I can't give you any more indication of where I'm at. I haven't ran the last couple of days but after today and tomorrow it will probably give me a better indication of where I am," he told a news conference.

"Am I going to be 100 per cent? Highly doubtful. But I'll be doing everything I can to get on that park and play and even if that means I'm not 100 per cent, I'll be doing everything I can to let the selectors give me that green light."

Australia's highest score of the series so far came in the second innings in Melbourne as they made 200.

Warner's return would be a major boost, but the opener said he was likely to be restricted if he played – and his running between wickets would be a key factor.

"Batting in the nets the other day it probably actually helped me because I had to wait for the ball to be in my actual area and I didn't have to throw my hands at it so it made me play nice and tight," he said.

"For me, you're going to have some restrictions here and there but at the end of the day it's about myself. When you get into the game, adrenalin takes over as well so you don't cast any doubt over the fact that you can't play those shots."

Warner added: "For me, it's about my speed between wickets, that's all that matters, it doesn't matter about what shots I can and can't play, it's about the drop and run, helping the guy at the other end get off strike, they're the things that I work on and they're the things I like to be 100 per cent fit for.

"In this case, I'm most likely not going to be, but I'm going to have to try and work out myself in the nets how I'm going to manage that and that's the most important thing to myself and this team."

Opener Joe Burns has been dropped by Australia for the third and fourth Tests against India with David Warner recalled as he edges closer to full fitness following a groin injury.

Warner is likely to play at the Sydney Cricket Ground after missing the opening two matches in the series that is now tied at 1-1 following the tourists' impressive victory in Melbourne.

Burns was the man to miss out after registering scores of 8, 51 not out, 0 and 4 in the opening two Tests.

"Joe Burns has been released from the squad and will return to the Brisbane Heat," said chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

"Unfortunately, Joe's returns haven't been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of.

"David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match."

There may be another change to the batting line-up with Will Pucovski also included in the squad.

The 22-year-old was due to play in the series opener in Adelaide before suffering another concussion, the ninth of his career. Pucovski's versatility means he could bat anywhere in the top six.

Hohns added: "Will is in the final stages of the graduated return to play protocols and has been symptom free for some time.

"He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return to play protocols and an independent assessment."

Paceman Sean Abbott was also included after overcoming a calf problem.


The Australia squad for the third and fourth Tests against India is: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner

Australia opener David Warner has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test, while Sean Abbott will also miss the Melbourne date with India.

Warner will sit out the blockbuster clash as he continues to recover from a groin injury, which sidelined him for the opening Test in Adelaide, where Australia won by eight wickets.

The 34-year-old Warner suffered an adductor injury during the second ODI against India last month as he watched Australia humble the tourists in the day-night contest at Adelaide Oval.

Australia paceman Abbott has returned to full fitness, but he will also be absent for the second Test due to Cricket Australia's (CA) strict biosecurity protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Warner and Abbott both departed for Melbourne on Saturday as a COVID-19 outbreak moves through Sydney, though they will be unable to enter the squad's hub.

"David Warner and Sean Abbott will re-join the Australian men's Test squad ahead of the third Test against India," a CA spokesman said.

"Warner and Abbott spent time in Sydney outside the team's bio-secure hub to recover from injury. While neither player has been in a specific 'hotspot' as outlined by NSW Health, Cricket Australia's biosecurity protocols do not allow them to re-join the squad in time for the Boxing Day Test.

"Warner has not fully recovered from a groin injury suffered in the ODI Series against India and would not have been available for the second Test match, while Abbott has recovered from a calf strain sustained during Australia A's tour match against India and would have been available for selection for the Boxing Day Test.

"The pair travelled from Sydney to Melbourne to continue their rehabilitation given the changing public health situation in Sydney at the time."

Matthew Wade and Joe Burns opened the batting for Australia in the first Test against India, and the pair are in line to continue atop the order.

Wade (33) and Burns (51 not out) put on a 70-run stand as Australia embarrassed Virat Kohli's India, who were held to a record-low Test score of 36 in the second innings.

The Boxing Day matchup will be the 100th men's Test between Australia and India, just the seventh fixture in the game's history to reach a century of iterations – Australia have won 43 of their previous 99 Tests against India (D27, L28).

Steve Smith (1,431) needs just 69 runs to become the fifth Australia player to reach 1,500 Test runs against India. His batting average of 79.5 from his 22 innings is the highest of any Australian to have logged more than six innings against them.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon requires nine more wickets to reach 400 in Test cricket – only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) have taken more for Australia in the men's format.

Will Pucovski has been ruled out of Australia's opening Test against India due to concussion, with Marcus Harris added to the squad.

Pucovski joins star batsman David Warner (adductor) on the sidelines ahead of the first day-night Test in Adelaide, starting December 17, after sustaining a mild concussion while batting for Australia A in their tour match with India.

Uncapped sensation Pucovski had been hoping to replace Warner at the top of the order for his Test debut, but the 22-year-old – who had posted 495 runs at an average of 247.5 to begin the Sheffield Shield campaign – was struck while batting on the last day of the tour match at Drummoyne Oval.

Victoria team-mate Harris – on track to play his 10th Test and first since the 2019 Ashes – has now been added to the squad, having recorded 239 runs against South Australia as part of the highest-ever Shield stand of 486 alongside Pucovski last month.

"Given the spate of injuries in recent weeks, we're fortunate to be able to bring a player of Marcus' calibre into the Test squad," said national selector Trevor Hohns.

"Marcus has been in outstanding form for Victoria this season and has had the benefit of facing India's bowlers in both three-day tour matches at Drummoyne and under lights at the SCG.

"At the same time, we are disappointed for David and Will that they will not be available for the first Vodafone Test.

"We have taken a conservative approach in managing Will since he sustained the concussion and hope he and David will be back to full health ahead of the Boxing Day Test."

 

David Warner has been ruled out of the first Test against India in a huge blow to Australia.

Warner, 34, suffered an adductor injury during the second ODI against India last month and will miss the Test series opener, which begins in Adelaide on December 17.

The left-hander is pushing to return for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

"I feel I have made great progress in a short amount of time and it's best for me to stay here in Sydney to continue working on getting back to full fitness," Warner said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The injury feels a lot better, but I need to be able to satisfy in my own mind and to my team-mates that it is 100 per cent ready for Test match conditions.

"That includes running between the wickets and being agile in the field. Right now I feel I am short of being able to play at peak fitness and another 10 days will make a difference."

Australia head coach Justin Langer praised Warner, saying: "If there is one guy you know will go well above and beyond that's Dave.

"He has done an incredible job to get to where he is today and we hope to have a fully fit David Warner at his absolute best in Melbourne."

Much of the talk ahead of the series has centred around Warner's opening partner for the first Test, with Will Pucovski pushing for Joe Burns' spot.

Burns' poor form continued with scores of four and a duck in Australia A's drawn tour match against India.

The in-form Pucovski, meanwhile, made one in the first innings and was on 23 in the second before retiring hurt after being hit in the helmet by a Kartik Tyagi bouncer.

Australia A's second tour match against India begins in Sydney on Friday.

David Warner is in doubt for the upcoming Test series against India after withdrawing from the remainder of Australia's limited-overs matches.

Warner suffered a groin strain as Australia clinched an ODI series victory over India thanks to Sunday's 51-run win in Sydney.

The Australia star has returned home to begin rehabilitation ahead of the opening day-night Test in Adelaide on December 17.

Warner will miss Wednesday's third and final ODI in Canberra, as well as the three-game Twenty20 series – D'Arcy Short the batsman's replacement.

Pat Cummins, who has no injury concerns, will also sit out the short-format games, though no replacement has been called up for the paceman.

"Pat and Davie are critical to our plans for the Test series," said Australia head coach Justin Langer.

"Davie will work through his injury rehab and in Pat's case it is important all of our players are managed well to keep them mentally and physically fit throughout what is a challenging summer.

"The priority for both is being fully prepared for one of the biggest and most important home Test series we have played in recent years, especially with World Test Championship points up for grabs."

Australia recorded their biggest ODI score at the SCG after reaching 389-4, the country's second highest overall on home soil, as Steve Smith posted a 62-ball century.

It was the highest total conceded by India in an ODI away from home – four of the five highest totals conceded have come at the hands of Australia, with three in Sydney.

Steve Smith smashed another 62-ball hundred as Australia's cruised to victory over India in the second ODI at the SCG to clinch the series.

Smith was in blistering form in the first match on Friday as he scored Australia's third-fastest ODI century.

He replicated that remarkable performance to help the hosts post their best ODI score at the SCG, their second-highest overall on home soil, the hosts reaching 389-4.

Virat Kohli (89) led the way for India in their pursuit of a mammoth target, but the India captain's efforts proved in vain as the tourists fell 51 runs short.

David Warner and Aaron Finch laid the platform for Australia with an opening stand of 142, having combined for their team's highest opening stand of 156 in the opening game.

Skipper Finch was caught at extra cover for 60 before Warner was run out for 83 after making the ill-advised decision to push for a second that Shreyas Iyer punished.

But it was Smith (104) who again proved the talisman for Australia, racking up 14 fours and a pair of sixes in a destructive innings.

He and Marnus Labuschagne (70) put on 136 for the third wicket, though Smith was dismissed two deliveries after reaching three figures – edging Hardik Pandya to short third man.

Glenn Maxwell struck four fours and four sixes in his 29-ball 63 to push Australia towards a score India rarely had any hope of besting.

A groin injury suffered by Warner, who was sent to hospital for scans, was the primary setback for Australia as they defended their total.

Kohli and Iyer steadied the ship for India after they were reduced to 60-2 by putting on 93.

However, Iyer fell victim to a tremendous diving catch from Smith at midwicket. After a partnership of 72 with KL Rahul (76), Kohli was undone in similar fashion courtesy of a stunner from Moises Henriques.

India's lower-order faltered after Rahul was caught at short third man, leaving the tourists with nothing but pride to play for in Wednesday's third ODI.

Steve Smith smashed Australia's third-fastest ODI century and Aaron Finch also made a sublime hundred as India were consigned to a 66-run defeat in the first match of the series.

Smith struck a sensational 105 from just 66 balls and Finch crafted 114 in Australia's massive total of 374-6 - their biggest against India in the 50-over format.

David Warner (69) also made the tourists suffer, while Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned 45 from only 19 balls in Australia's second-highest ODI total at the SCG.

Mohammed Shami (3-59) was comfortably the pick of the India bowlers on a painful Friday afternoon in the field.

Hardik Pandya struck a superb 90 and Shikhar Dhawan made 74, but India, returning to action for the first time since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, fell short on 308-8 in reply.

Josh Hazlewood (3-55) and Adam Zampa (4-54) did the damage with the ball for Australia as they started their summer in style to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.


FINCH AND WARNER MAKE HISTORY

Finch and Warner combined for the highest opening stand for Australia in an ODI at the SCG, their 156 surpassing the record of 152 set by Geoff Marsh and David Boon in 1986.

Shami finally got the breakthrough in the 28th over, snaring Warner caught behind after Virat Kohli reviewed, but Finch and Smith dished out more punishment, putting on 108 in just 12 overs.

The brilliant Finch struck two sixes and another nine fours in his fourth ODI century against India, a tally only Ricky Ponting has bettered with six, before the skipper became Jasprit Bumrah's only victim.

SENSATIONAL SMITH AND MAXWELL GO BESERK

While Finch uncharacteristically scored at less than a run a ball, Smith raced to a magnificent hundred which he reached off 62 balls.

Smith failed to hit the heights during the recent Indian Premier League but produced a disdainful knock as he dispatched the tourists' attack to all parts - Yuzvendra Chahal (1-89) conceding the most runs by an India spinner in an ODI.

The imperious Smith hit four sixes and 11 fours as he put on a show along with Maxwell, who treated the crowd to some astonishing innovative strokes in an explosive innings.

HAZLEWOOD AND ZAMPA DERAIL INDIA CHASE

India's run chase got off to a blistering start, Mitchell Starc conceding 20 off an 11-ball first over, but they were struggling on 101-4 in the 14th over - Kohli making just 21 after he was dropped by Zampa on one.

Hazlewood had Kohli caught by Finch at midwicket and the quick also saw the back of Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer.

Dhawan - dropped by Maxwell on 41 - and Pandya - playing as a specialist batsman - gave India hope with a fifth-wicket stand of 128, but spinner Zampa removed both in quick succession and got rid of Ravindra Jadeja in an ultimately comfortable win for Australia.

Aaron Finch hailed Virat Kohli as "probably the best one-day player of all time" as Australia prepare to face India in an eagerly awaited ODI series.

India have not been in action since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but their wait will come to an end at the SCG on Friday.

Australia should be confident after beating world champions 2-1 in the 50-over format in September and both sides will welcome being able to play in front of crowds.

Kohli headed to Australia on the back of being the ninth-highest run-scorer in the Indian Premier League and Australia captain Finch has lavished praise on his opposite number ahead of the three-match series.

"If you look at his record, it's second to none. It really is remarkable," said Finch, who also featured in the IPL. "What we have to keep in mind is that we have to keep looking to get him out.

"When you go away from that and you look to contain players, you can miss a trick. He's probably the best one-day player of all time, so it's about sticking to our plans and being really committed in that regard."

Kohli will be looking not only for a series victory, but also to consolidate his status as the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world in the absence of his injured team-mate Rohit Sharma.

India paceman Jasprit Bumrah, meanwhile, could regain top spot in the bowler rankings, as he only trails New Zealand's Trent Boult by three points.

The two sides, who will wear black armbands in tribute to late Australia great Dean Jones, will be playing for ICC Cricket World Cup Super League points.

 

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR AGARWAL

A hamstring injury sustained during the IPL means there will be no Rohit at the top of the India order, so Mayank Agarwal looks set to partner Shikhar Dhawan.

Agarwal failed to show what he is capable of when India were whitewashed by New Zealand in February.

The 29-year-old was in good touch during the IPL, though, scoring 424 runs at an average of 38.54 and making a century for Kings XI against Rajasthan Royals.

KL Rahul is likely to come in down the order, given he will take up the role of wicketkeeper-batsman.

 

WARNER TO MAKE HAY AT HAPPY HUNTING GROUND?

Australia have a formidable recent record at the SCG, winning 11 of their previous 13 ODIs at the famous venue.

They have also come out on top in all but two of their previous 16 encounters with India at the Sydney fortress.

India's last ODI victory over Australia at the venue came in January 2016 and dismissing David Warner cheaply may be key to repeating that feat.

The opener has an ODI average of 57.2 at the SCG, higher than any other player in the men's game from 10 innings or more. Warner has scored two hundreds and a half-century in his last five knocks at the venue.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Kohli is 133 runs away from becoming only the sixth man to record 12,000 in ODIs. 
- India have won 12 of their last 18 ODIs against Australia, including the previous two.
- The tourists have won five of their last seven bilateral ODI series versus Australia, including a 2-1 win in the most recent series on Australian soil early last year.
- Finch is just 17 shy of becoming the 16th Australian to score 5,000 ODI runs. He has not been dismissed for a single-figure total in any of his last 10 ODI knocks.
- Mohammed Shami (50) has taken more ODI wickets since the beginning of 2019 than any other player; Australia duo Adam Zampa and Pat Cummins (43 each) are joint-second.

David Warner insisted he would be happy with whoever he opens with for Australia, but the left-hander talked up his partnership with Joe Burns.

Burns is under pressure ahead of the first Test against India, with Will Pucovski starring for Victoria to begin the Sheffield Shield season.

In 27 Test innings, Burns and Warner have scored 1,365 runs at an average of 50.55, including averaging 65.4 against Pakistan and New Zealand in 2019-20.

Warner is happy with the stability of Burns, but said Pucovski – who has scored 495 runs at an average of 247.5 to begin the Shield campaign – was in fine form.

"To be honest, I've had over a dozen opening partners and it's never been quite stable," he told a news conference on Monday.

"Obviously, when I was batting with 'Bucky' [Chris] Rogers, we had a great partnership and we bonded really well together out in the middle. I think something with me and Joe, we've done that over the past few years.

"I've known Joe for a long time. We've played out in the middle together, we know each other's game very well but, at the end of the day, it's upon the selectors to pick the right person to fit that position.

"If they go the way of Will, he is obviously batting fantastic. He has been in and out of the Test squad and, obviously, removed himself in some sad times, obviously, with his mental stuff.

"He is in the right frame of mind at the moment. It probably is an opportunity for him to come into the team but, as we know, it's harder to get out of this team than get in. Whoever they go with, I will be well and truly happy with as long as that person who comes in does their job.

"At the moment, I didn't think Joe did anything wrong last summer. We put on some great partnerships, averaged over 60 and that's what you want from your opening partnership so at the end of the day, it's upon the selectors to pick their team and I've got to be happy with that and just embrace it."

As Pucovski has starred, Burns has scored just 57 runs in his five Sheffield Shield innings.

Warner said he saw no reason to change a partnership that has worked with Burns, who averages 38.3 in Tests.

"It's not a thing where the coach and selectors will come to me and ask me. It's just a preference," Warner said.

"I have batted time with Joe Burns before in the middle. I know exactly what we are about when we're out there, building a partnership and building a bond.

"We won a lot of games last year. For me you don't really break something that's actually working, it's usually the opposite. When things aren't going your way, you've got to find problems and solutions, that's the only thing I can sort of back that answer up with.

"To get into the Australian team, you've got to put numbers on the board and Will's an exceptional talent and a great player for years to come especially, he's in the right mind frame at the moment. This next sort of [Australia] A game is probably going to be the tell all, it could be the bat off for that position so it's going to be interesting to see and obviously it's up to the selectors to pick the team at the end of the day, not me."

The first Test between Australia and India is set to begin in Adelaide on December 17.

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