India and Australia have played 97 Tests between them since 1947 and, as expected, the Australians have dominated the numbers with 42 wins and 26 draws. So, Virat Kohli and Co. will have their eyes set on the historic series win. However, Australia (3467) have faced more balls than India (3386) in the series so far. Only later did the management release a statement that Ishant had, in fact, sustained an injury and the team was not willing to risk him for the final Test. "Ishant is experiencing some left rib cage discomfort and the team management did not want to risk him during this Test match". Kohli was more contained than usual at the other end, ensuring that Australia are ground to dust with no Mitchell Marsh to do the hard yards. "He is very important for sure".
"Usman's opening record in test cricket is very good and he's been on record saying he's not too fussed where he bats, whether it's one or three", Paine said. We need him to be 100 per cent fit.
Ishant Sharma was ruled out due to an injury and wasn't named in the 13-member shortlist which was announced on the eve of the game. The BCCI said a decision on Ashwin's availability would be made on the morning of the match.
"It doesn't for me personally", he said on whether preventing an India series win was his key motivation.
With the pace trio of Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav, the two spinners will in all likelihood bamboozle the Australian batsmen. What seemed likely, from what Kohli said, was that Vihari would return to his No. 6 position while KL Rahul came into the XI in place of Rohit Sharma, who is back home to spend time with his wife and newly-born daughter.
There is no option of playing an all-rounder as Hardik Pandya continues to be ignored, despite a hectic pre-match workout in the nets with both bat and ball. Cheteshwar Pujara has been pivotal for India as he has been part of six fifty-plus stands for India out of 11 which makes him more unsafe at Sydney as he is also a good player of spin. Kohli will join Ganguly as the only Indian captain to have achieved this feat in Australia.
Indian middle-order's contribution is also one of the biggest factors which makes India favourites to win the series.
Barring an overnight change of thinking, the shock move would enable the Australian hierarchy to tinker with the batting line-up without a dramatic overhaul that would unsettle the team with only three tests left until the Ashes.
Australia have parachuted leg-spinning batsman Marnus Labuschagne into the squad for Sydney and he could start if selectors feel there is enough in the track to warrant playing him alongside Nathan Lyon.
Speaking of, that means Aaron Finch will be the first drop of the day, out of the team with Usman Khawaja to open the batting.