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Hello cricket friends. We are ready to do it all from Sydney again, and for the last time. After this, the roadshow will move to Brisbane. If Australia win today, it will mean a 2-1 lead with India still able to retain the trophy by winning the fourth and final match. If India can expect a draw today, it will be 1-1 with a series win and a trophy to play for.
It is going to be hard work. India is 98 times 2, a score that is still 309 falls short of a very theoretical goal. More importantly, his two starting hitters are gone and the rest of the team needs to hit three sessions to tie. The rest of the team is also missing a batter and a half, because Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant were injured while batting in the first inning. Pant is hitting but will be hampered by a very sore elbow, Jadeja doesn’t hit at all with a badly dislocated thumb (unless maybe there’s a situation like Graeme Smith with a few overs remaining at nine yards).
That means the job falls to Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, the couple who didn’t come out overnight. They are the oldest hitters in India and the ones with the ability to hit long. If they can, they will create an opportunity. If one of them falls early, it’s all over. Racing is out of the equation because the pitch has had a variable rebound and it has been difficult to score quickly throughout the game. Suddenly scoring 100 runs per session on the fifth day is not going to happen. Survival will be difficult and some deliveries will stay low or bounce more than expected.
And there is that ability of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood to find land when they need it, plus the affection of Mitchell Stac and Nathan Lyon for fifth days. That is the contest ahead of us.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism