The four match Test series between Australia and India will head to Melbourne for the annual Boxing Day Test starting on, of course, the 26th of December! After a thrilling Game 2 win for the Australians, they levelled the series at 1-1 and will be looking to take a series lead at the MCG. See our preview and tips for the 3rd Test below!
Although they are still yet to score a century in the series, the Australian batting lineup looked more solid in the first innings in Perth, compiling 326 runs on the back of a tidy 112 run opening partnership between Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris. Finch was forced to retire hurt from his innings when he suffered a hand injury, and could be in doubt for the 3rd Test in Melbourne.
Despite a brilliant century by Indian skipper Virat Kohli, the tourists couldn’t come away with a first innings lead, as Australia were able to limit them to just 283 on the back of a superb 5 wicket haul from Nathan Lyon. After being 4-120, Australia went on to compile a respectable 243 in the second innings, led by 72 from Usman Khawaja, leaving the Indians 287 runs to win.
Nathan Lyon was once again the difference in the second innings, claiming the three key wickets of Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant and man of the match honours along with it. With the performance of Nathan Lyon in hindsight, the Indians will regret opting to play four quicks with no frontline spinner in Perth, and will surely revert to either Ravi Ashwin (if healthy) or Ravi Jadeja in Melbourne.
The Australian selectors look likely to go into the Melbourne Test with the same line-up, banking on the health of Finch, of course. If Finch proves to be unavailable, the selectors will likely opt for Matt Renshaw, who was left out of the Brisbane Heat squad in the BBL08 opener.
The curators in Melbourne will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the debacle that was the Boxing Day Test against England last year. With a drop-in pitch in place, the conditions offered absolutely nothing for the bowlers as the two sides played out a lacklustre draw. The recent Sheffield Shield match between the Vics and WA didn’t inspire much confidence as the teams played out a draw. If the pitch plays anything like it did in the Ashes or in the recent Shield match, I struggle to find a way the Aussies will be able to get Chesteshwar Pujara out.
It becomes almost impossible to make a selection in this game when we truly have no idea how the pitch will play. We knew the conditions were going to favour batsmen in Adelaide and fast bowlers in Perth because the pitches traditionally play that way. While it was Nathan Lyon who earned man of the match honours, it was due to the extra bounce that Perth provided, which could have been expected.
With Melbourne, it’s hard to know what is going to happen. We have to go into the game with the mindset that the pitch will once again, favour the batsmen, as that is how it has played in recent history. If that’s the case, so much rides on the coin toss. With the two sides both relatively even in the betting market, our pick will be on the team that wins the toss and inevitably bats first.
Note: Obviously you’ll need to wait until the final moments before the game starts to follow this tip, but with the Australians currently paying $2.15 and the Indians at $2.45, you should be able to get at least $2 for either team after the toss.
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