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WICKET! Rahane c Wade b Lyon 4, India 102-3




























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Preamble

Hello cricket friends. We’re ready to do it all from Sydney again, and for one final 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 hang on for a draw today, it will be 1-1 with both a series win and a trophy to play for.

It’s going to be tough work. India are 98 for 2, a score that is still 309 runs short of a very theoretical target. More importantly their two opening batsmen are gone and the rest of the team needs to bat three sessions to draw. The rest of the team is short one and a half batsmen, too, because Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant were both injured while batting in the first innings. Pant will bat but will be hampered by a very sore elbow, Jadeja won’t bat at all with a badly dislocated thumb (unless perhaps there’s a Graeme Smith kind of situation with a few overs left at nine wickets down).

So that means that the job lies with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, the pair that was not out overnight. They are India’s most senior batsmen and the ones with the ability to bat long. If they can do so, they’ll create a chance. If one of them falls early, it’s all but over. The runs are out of the equation because the pitch has had variable bounce and has been hard to score quickly on throughout the match. Suddenly dialling up 100 runs a session on the fifth day isn’t going to happen. Survival will be hard with some deliveries keeping low or bouncing higher than expected.

And there’s that knack of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood to find wickets when they need them, plus the fondness of Mitchell Stac and Nathan Lyon for fifth days. That’s the contest ahead of us.

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