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Australia v India: SCG fourth Test, day one – live!

The Guardian logo The Guardian 03/01/2019 Adam Collins (now) Geoff Lemon (earlier) and Jonathan Howcroft (later)

3.55am GMT

46th over: India 144-2 (Pujara 40, Kohli 11) Pujara pushes Lyon’s first ball through cover, Kohli also taking a single with a tuck off his hip. Pujara kicked away the offie after dancing down the track later in the over but there’s no meaningful lbw appeal. This is a shot I took of Pujara when he started his day. There’s just no disturbing him.

3.51am GMT

45th over: India 142-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 10) Kohli is back at at Cummins ball short of a length and looking to pull, but he doesn’t get much of it, spilling out to the fielder for a couple rather than a boundary. The Aussie quick won’t mind that. Sure enough, a couple of short balls follow but the Indian captain is back into his defensive posture.

“Morning, Adam.” Afternoon, Simon Richards. “Just catching up. Geoff posted Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ as an anthem. An earlier Ibiza banger was Hi-Lux’s ‘Never Felt This Way’. Would love to see/hear a mash-up of that with footage of Bumble being “mid-riffed” by Thommo.”

What I know for sure on this topic is that Great Southern Land has to be replaced as the song that the Australian side run out to when they are starting a session. [Jed Bartlet] We can do better, we must do better! [/Jed Bartlet]

3.45am GMT

44th over: India 140-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 8) Very good from Lyon, beating Pujara for the second time in as many overs with a delivery that didn’t come back at the right-hander, bouncing past the edge. Andrew Samson informs us on SEN that it was the 1000th delivery Pujara has faced in this series (!). The only other time he achieved this feat was also against Australia, in the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. The bulk of those must have been in his marathon at Ranchi where he batted for days, or so it felt.

3.42am GMT

43rd over: India 140-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 8) After Hazlewood dotted them up for three overs on the bounce, Cummins is brought back for a burst at Kohli, against whom he has a wonderful record. Mindful of this, no doubt, the India skipper takes no risks here, defending and leaving in rotation.

3.37am GMT

42nd over: India 140-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 8) After getting off the mark with a lavish drive, Kohli has wound it back just as he did in Perth. He’s compact in response to Lyon, taking one behind square off his hip after getting into position early. Pujara finishes with another frolic down the strip, and why wouldn’t he? According to CricViz, he averages more than 300 when advancing to spinners.

3.35am GMT

41st over: India 139-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 7) Hazlewood putting in a shift here after Starc and Cummins struggled to penetrate immediately after lunch. Pujara knows the deal, showing respect when he has to play and getting out the way when he doesn’t.

3.29am GMT

40th over: India 139-2 (Pujara 39, Kohli 7) Driiiift from Lyon, enough to bring Pujara forward from the crease rather than on the dance, the outside edge is beaten. The No3 is back to using his feet to defend before leaping right back to grab one off his thigh pad and retain the strike.

Updated at 3.31am GMT

3.26am GMT

39th over: India 138-2 (Pujara 38, Kohli 7) Back to back maidens from Hazlewood either side of drinks, this time banging away at a consistent line and length at Kohli just on or outside the off-stump. There’s a bouncer in there too, but just the one. The short-picked line of attack has been put away for now - or to Kohli, at least.

3.22am GMT

38th over: India 138-2 (Pujara 38, Kohli 7) Lyon to Kohli to begin, getting off strike straight away with a push down the ground, using his feet for the first time. Pujara does the same, to defend a couple of times then unable to beat midwicket. It is all worth it, through the No3 getting to the pitch of the final delivery and playing a quite magnificent off-drive that beats Lyon’s dive one way and mid-off the other.

Meanwhile, I missed this from Glenn Maxwell earlier in the session, tweeting like a man who knows his fate. The lesson to young cricketers: SAY NOTHING, be a footballer.

Updated at 3.31am GMT

3.13am GMT

37th over: India 133-2 (Pujara 34, Kohli 6) It has taken Australia to the final over of the third hour to send down a maiden in this session, Josh Hazlewood keeping Pujara quiet in defence, ducking the final ball to earn his drink. A busy hour, India advancing the score from 69 to 133 but losing Agarwal just when the opener was heading to a ton.

3.10am GMT

36th over: India 133-2 (Pujara 34, Kohli 6) Pujara clips the first delivery of the new Lyon over to midwicket, where he’s scored the bulk of this 18 runs in the 56 minutes since lunch. Kohli plays the off-spinner with respect, these two continuing their fine rivalry that has extended across five Test series and eight years now. To the final ball, the Indian captain uses the crease to get back, turning two to fine leg.

3.05am GMT

35th over: India 130-2 (Pujara 33, Kohli 4) Kohli is booed by the SCG crowd as he walks out, then again when they announce his name. The response from the Indian fans in the O’Reilly and Trumper Stands is to roar even louder again in support of their number one. After watching a couple of balls from Hazlewood the superstar is off the mark with a glooooooooorious cover drive, on the up through the gap, no need to run for that. It’s a stunningly beautiful shot. This should be fun.

3.01am GMT

WICKET! Agarwal c Starc b Lyon 77 (India 126-2)

What?! Agarwal holes out! After smashing Lyon straight over his head for a second six earlier in the over, he went again at the final ball of the set and didn’t get to the pitch, caught by Starc running around at long-on. Yes, that’s how he was scoring but he’s really thrown away a ton there. Well done Lyon, getting the wicket-taking ball to dip.

34th over: India 126-2 (Pujara 33)

2.58am GMT

33rd over: India 119-1 (Agarwal 71, Pujara 32) Hazlewood replaces Cummins from the Paddington End but it doesn’t slow Agarwal, who is straight onto the front foot pushing one to midwicket. After watching the action from the non-strikers’ end, Pujara makes the most of his chance to nail a cut shot forward of point, slamming into the boundary in front of the Bill O’Reilly Stand. Have that. The NSW quick finds an extra yard later in the over, hitting him on the handle of the bat. Tasty cricket.

2.54am GMT

32nd over: India 113-1 (Agarwal 70, Pujara 27) Lyon is on and Agarwal is after him, dancing and clobbering the first ball of his new spell for SIX! Hazlewood was there on the long-on rope but the opener took him on and the lofted shot just had the legs to clear him. Such bold batting, fantastic to watch. Lyon bounces straight back, creating an error with Agarwal nearly spooning a catch back from a delivery that bounced more. Pujara’s turn, who grabs a couple to cover to bring up the 100-run stand between the pair, the second 50 coming in 75 balls. Nine off the over; these two are flying.

2.49am GMT

31st over: India 104-1 (Agarwal 63, Pujara 25) “This is a dangerous period for Australia,” Simon Katich says on SEN when Agarwal pulls Cummins off his hip for another four to start the over. It sure is. They have tried to bounce the opener out and it hasn’t worked, coming out the other end of the barrage in lovely shape. Fuller now, he’s driving a couple more before keeping the strike with another off the body. India have piled on 42 runs in the last ten overs with Agarwal well on his way to a maiden ton.

2.45am GMT

Agarwal to 50!

30th over: India 97-1 (Agarwal 56, Pujara 25) Lovely batting, the new Indian opener Agarwal staying still in the crease to square drive Starc for four, raising his half-century with the fine stroke from his 96th delivery. He keeps pushing through the over, driving a couple down the ground from the next ball and cutting the last delivery hard past point. It’s ever so close to another boundary, Siddle the sub managing to save the fourth run with a outstretched hand, as confirmed by the third umpire after 70 or 80 replays.

“Happy New Year, Adam.” And to you, Ian Forth. “Only three Indians have retired after 20+ tests with an average of 50+ and they are the predictable trio of Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Dravid. Heady company for Pujara. Numerous Aussies feature but only two retired with a 60+ average. Of course, the predictable duo of Bradman and Voges.”

2.39am GMT

29th over: India 88-1 (Agarwal 47, Pujara 25) More good batting from Agarwal, inching closer to a half-century with a compact push through cover for a couple then a pull around the corner to fine leg. That’ll do nicely. Pujara defends the rest of the Cummins over, banged in short of a length but not bothering him this time.

2.33am GMT

28th over: India 85-1 (Agarwal 44, Pujara 25) Starc to Pujara, who waits for a ball on his pads, which he clips away for two more. By his standards, he’s positively motoring since lunch. The bouncer follows to finich, the No3 not getting out the way of it, the ball coming off his arm into the cordon, falling just short. Expect a lot more of that.

Updated at 3.32am GMT

2.29am GMT

27th over: India 83-1 (Agarwal 44, Pujara 23) Runs! Three to begin when Pujara turns a full Cummins ball through midwicket for his second consecutive three, then five wides via a bouncer gone wrong, clearing everyone and slamming into the boundary. Agarwal defends then evades the rest of the attack, directed at his body for now. Blimey, this is a development: Sony are refusing to take Kerry O’Keefe’s commentary from Fox, so they are doing their own into India from the studio when he’s on the mic.

2.24am GMT

26th over: India 75-1 (Agarwal 44, Pujara 20) Starc rather than Lyon to begin from the Randwick End and after Agarwal defends a quick delivery off the back foot, Labuschagne is audible on the commentary getting excited at short leg. Tim Paine did say yesterday that one of the Queenslander’s best selling points it that “he doesn’t shut up” so, playing to his strengths there I guess. The opener then takes one through the gap at cover with a nice punch, Pujara placing three the other side of point along the ground to finish the productive over. Nice re-start from these two.

2.19am GMT

25th over: India 71-1 (Agarwal 43, Pujara 17) Pujara starts the new stanza with a single off Cummins behind square leg. I see on TV that his career average is now exactly 50, satisfying the obsessive-compulsive part of my brain. There are two catchers in on the legside - a bad pad and a leg gully - for Agarwal, who gloved a couple into that region before the break. He handles it well this time though, getting the full face of the bat to a delivery on his hip, down to fine leg to get his first run after lunch.

This was a nice bit on Fox Cricket at lunch with Brendan Lyon, brother of Nathan. He’s been widely credited with the Australian offie’s improvement with the bat this summer.

2.14am GMT

The players are back on the field! Mark Waugh on TV is calling for some short stuff at Pujara (16), which worked [after a day] against him in Melbourne. India are resuming on 69/1 with Agarwal (42) well on his way to a second half-century in as many Tests. Cummins has the ball in his hand, running away from my OBO position at the Paddington End. PLAY!

2.04am GMT

From the vault. I remember watching this from the Clive Churchill Stand.

2.02am GMT

Happy New Year! Thank you Geoff for that illuminating session. I just spotted Darren Lehmann in the lunch queue and had half a mind to tell him that he’d been badly snubbed in the Baldrick XI. Lovely OBO areas. India, once again, sucked the energy out of Australia’s opening attack, just as they did in Melbourne on the opening day. Take note Australian top order: this is how you go about winning a Test Match.

To begin, a community service announcement to those in Sydney at a loose end: get along! There’s nobody here. By that, what I mean is the SCG is at least a third empty with seats all over the ground. Indeed, if you want a full row to yourself, that won’t be a problem. Remember a couple of summers ago when the SCG Trust said that they should have a second Test here each summer? Yeah, pull the other one.

We’re about ten minutes away from the resumption for this second session and I’m looking forward to your company throughout. Drop me a line, ping me a tweet, give me your all and I’ll do the same.

1.41am GMT

Lunch – India 69-1 after winning the toss and batting

India’s session. Once again they batted slowly and carefully, and weren’t worried about the run rate. Once again Australia created plenty of close moments. And once again, the Indian batsmen defended and survived, and have given themselves the chance to prosper. Starc tried the pitched-up swing, then the barrage. Hazlewood took the only wicket to fall, nicking off KL Rahul which is currently not the greatest challenge in world cricket. But Agarwal followed up an impressive Melbourne debut by once more looking the part, while Che Pujara continued his excellent series.

After some final late votes, here’s our Baldrick XI. I would have liked to get Gooch in there but he betrayed us with Advanced Hair. Good seam-bowling options, a classic English captain with an amateur’s stats, and the greatest NZ bowling action of all time. We’re set.

Bald XI

1. Virender Sehwag

2. Brian Close

3. Hashim Amla

4. Jonathan Trott

5. Viv Richards

6. Ben Stokes

7. Syed Kirmani

8. Chris Harris

9. Nathan Lyon

10. Doug The Rug Bollinger

11. Frank Typhoon Tyson

Edit: I can’t believe I forgot Clarrie Grimmett. He’s even good enough and bald enough to nudge out the G.O.A.T.

That’s it from me, Adam Collins will accompany you until tea.

Updated at 1.47am GMT

1.34am GMT

24th over: India 69-1 (Agarwal 42, Pujara 16) The umpires race to squeeze one more over in before lunch, because the rate is dire this morning. Pujara uses his feet confidently against Lyon, coming down to find a single, then goes back to cut another. Four singles take the score easily on to 69, very nice. There’s a quick stumping referral, but Agarwal is back. He blocks the last, and that will be lunch.

1.31am GMT

23rd over: India 65-1 (Agarwal 40, Pujara 14) He’s hit! Pujara gets hit in the head by Hazlewood. Nasty one, hit the back of the helmet as Pujara ducked and took his eyes off the ball. Everyone has a shiver of concern at the SCG seeing that. There’s a long delay as Pujara gets checked, but eventually he takes his new helmet and plays on. Receives another bouncer. Evades it.

1.24am GMT

22nd over: India 64-1 (Agarwal 39, Pujara 14) And Agarwal has triumphed! Mitch Starc ends his opening epic, and Nathan Lyon comes on for the first time today. That’s a big win for the opening batsman. He and Pujara take a single apiece from the familiar comfort of off-spin.

1.21am GMT

21st over: India 62-1 (Agarwal 38, Pujara 13) Hazlewood carries on the bouncer attack to Agarwal, while mixing in some length deliveries. But it doesn’t work. The opener remains.

A few other votes for Sanath Jayasuriya in the Bald XI, who was as polished as they come, but he’s in the naughty corner at the moment. Ruth Purdue suggests Shane Warne, but he’s gone to such extreme medical lengths to appear forested that he could never qualify on ethical grounds. We need players who embrace the chrome.

1.16am GMT

20th over: India 62-1 (Agarwal 38, Pujara 13) Starc will continue. A ninth over straight. A few people were scornful after Melbourne about the supposed need for all-rounders, saying the frontline bowlers weren’t doing that much work. If this is a response, Starc is humming a song by Sia: “Uh-oh, I’ve got stamina.”

Very attacking field, too. No one protecting a run on the leg side. Bat-pad catchers either side of the wicket, unusual for a fast bowler. Harris at silly mid-off almost takes a catch as Agarwal fends a ball away. But the batsman once again survives the barrage.

1.11am GMT

19th over: India 61-1 (Agarwal 37, Pujara 13) As soon as a bowler pitches full, Agarwal edges. But again it’s through the cordon for four. Hazlewood with the near miss. Bowls a bouncer to follow up, of course, then pitches fuller for a check-drive through the covers for three. So the runs are flowing again.

1.08am GMT

18th over: India 54-1 (Agarwal 30, Pujara 13) Starc carries on with this short-ball attack, but it isn’t getting Agarwal out. He’s riding out the storm, and Starc can’t keep going forever. He’s bowled eight overs on the bounce!

Now. Bald bowlers. I’m getting a few shouts for Chris Lewis, but his baldness was self-imposed. And a couple for Chris Martin, the Phantom. But he always struck me as a buzzcut man rather than a natural defoliator? Am I wrong?

But the answer comes through, and once you see it, it’s so obvious. Matthew Williams and a few others have the suggestion. “Doug ‘The Rug; Bollinger. They performed the heat map analysis on his head. It was fantastic.” And he stripped the rug in the end, so he qualifies on every front.

1.01am GMT

17th over: India 53-1 (Agarwal 29, Pujara 13) If Cheteshwar Pujara were a bird, he’d never get airborne. Unflappable. And entirely grounded. Low in his stance, compact in his strokes, able to defend whatever Josh Hazlewood sends down. Middling the ball first to point, then to square leg, but all he cares about is keeping it away from his stumps.

“Sehwag hardly had any hair in the later years,” emails SH. True that, there’s our other opener. Where are my fast bowlers, though? David Meiklejohn has the answer. Frank Tyson. The Typhoon who looked like an accountant. Hell yes.

12.57am GMT

16th over: India 53-1 (Agarwal 29, Pujara 13) Agarwal fends away another Starc nasty off the glove for a single. Pujara looks much more composed in pressing a run into the leg side. Happy to put Agarwal back on strike: there ya go, champion.

12.54am GMT

15th over: India 51-1 (Agarwal 28, Pujara 12) Tim Paine reviews, after Cummins beats Pujara on the inside edge. But Marais Erasmus on the video forensics finds that the ball beat the inside edge and clipped the trouser pocket just after it passed the bat. That is a sensational decision, because there was a noise at just the right time. It convinced Paine, who was the one pushing for the review while Cummins was non-committal. Maiden.

“If you are still looking for batsmen,” writes Simon of our hairless quest, “how about Amla?” Great call. It’s all hair from the ears down, none from the ears up. Bradman and de Villiers were both pretty short on top, but that’s too easy. Dylan Wilson wants Tony Greig, Matthew Doherty wants South African domestic bowler Vince van der Bilj, who was indeed very bald but played all his cricket during apartheid isolation.

Here’s where I’m at. We need some quicks. Nixon McLean? Vasbert Drakes?


2. Brian Close

3. Hashim Amla


5. Viv Richards

6. Tony Greig

7. Syed Kirmani

8. Chris Harris


10. Nathan Lyon


Updated at 12.54am GMT

12.45am GMT

14th over: India 51-1 (Agarwal 28, Pujara 12) Get out of the way! Mitchell Starc is getting stroppy now. He’s sick of being driven, so he bowls most of the over short at Agarwal. The last ball is the nastiest of the lot, up towards the head. Agarwal leaps and flinches, arching his back like a breaching dolphin, and the ball takes his gloves and maybe bat handle and clips the helmet, pogo-ing over the slip cordon and safely away for four! That was dramatic. But he survives, and the score passes 50. There’s a delay as Agarwal gets checked by the physio and changes his helmet.

12.38am GMT

13th over: India 47-1 (Agarwal 24, Pujara 12) Cummins to continue after the bodily hydration interval. A single from the over. “Good morning Geoff,” writes Ravi Raman. “Syed Kirmani is available for selection to the Clean Head XI.” Glad we’ve got a wicketkeeper, so far I’m heavy on slow bowlers.

Wait, here are some batsmen from Ian Forth. “Happy New Year, Geoff. I’d give a great deal to be on the Bald XI balcony when Boycott, Close and Sir Viv Richards were deciding when to declare. Also if Boycs had just instructed Matt Prior to go out and throw the bat, ‘don’t worry about your average’.”

Ian, if we’ve got Vic in the team, Boycott isn’t getting anywhere near it. Ricky Ponting had a pretty fair helicopter pad by the end of his career, didn’t he?

12.33am GMT

12th over: India 46-1 (Agarwal 23, Pujara 12) Starc into his fifth over, and Agarwal drives him majestically for four! That ball was wider, and the batsman stepped into it and used the full swing and the full flourish in sending it to the cover boundary. That was pretty. I saw a few people on the internet talking up the green pitch this morning, and using that dangerous phrase “good toss to lose”. Incorrect.

Starc follows up with a couple of bouncers, one too high, but one that makes Agarwal fend away towards a vacant leg gully region. That’s drinks.

James Walsh emails in. “What’s been so great about this series - and, indeed, Test matches this past year generally - is the whole concept of the draw feels increasingly like Grandpa Simpson explaining the fashion for onion-enhanced belts.”

Spot on – there was only one flat-track batting draw in 2018. Even the other couple of draws we had were exciting ones where rearguards held on. Australia in Dubai, Sri Lanka in New Zealand, and New Zealand and against England spring to mind.

12.27am GMT

11th over: India 41-1 (Agarwal 18, Pujara 12) How does Mayank Agarwal still not have a bat sponsor? He’s the best opener India have used this series, without a doubt. Drives Cummins through cover again for four. Then a leg bye after Agarwal’s hit on the body. Cummins didn’t like that shot.

I can sign a statutory declaration that Aditya Anchuri sent this before Rahul got out. “I hope I’m mistaken, but again India have made a massive selection blunder by bringing back KL Rahul. Honestly would have stuck with Vihari opening and brought in Hardik Pandya or Bhuvneshwar Kumar instead. This side is too spin heavy. If neither Pandya or Bhuvneshwar are match fit then they should be playing Ranji Trophy, not enjoying a nice Aussie holiday in the New Year.”

Can’t believe that Bhuvi hasn’t played a Test this tour.

12.22am GMT

10th over: India 36-1 (Agarwal 14, Pujara 12) Another good over from Starc, bringing a couple of leaves from Agarwal, then making him play as the line crept close to off stump. Just a single from the last ball as it got too straight. We’re getting a lot of mail about Australia’s selection.

Says Rob: “Anytime you can weaken your already weak batting lineup to introduce a 6th bowling option, you just have to do it. On a more serious note, do you think if Khawaja had opened and Finch batted #5 from the start of the series, it might have been slightly better?”

Slightly, yes, though Usman hasn’t exactly set the world alight this series either. But Finch did well opening in the UAE, so it’s understandable to give him a run and see if it worked.

“Does anyone know who Maxwell has upset, and how?” asks Grif. “The longer it goes on the less it looks like a cricketing decision. We’ll look after him in sunny Manchester and show him some love, I’m sure he’ll be able to feel the adulation through his three sweaters in early April.”

“Are they serious with these selections? I think I’m going to treat Australian team selection like string theory or car engines. Complicated mysteries of the universe that are beyond my understanding.” That email is apparently from David Warner, but I’m going out on a limb to speculate that it’s not our David Warner.

12.17am GMT

9th over: India 35-1 (Agarwal 13, Pujara 12) Defending, leaving, defending, then from the last ball of the Cummins over, Pujara stretches forward and opens the face a touch and steers a length ball into the ground past gully for four. I’m giving him that one.

12.11am GMT

8th over: India 31-1 (Agarwal 13, Pujara 8) “Tropical Cyclone Penny is reforming in the Coral Sea,” says the news report, and I’m not sure if it’s referring to a weather system or a punk band. Hazlewood continues from the Randwick End, with the Clive Churchill Stand at his back. Pujara drives a single, Agarwal keeps out the rest.

12.07am GMT

7th over: India 30-1 (Agarwal 13, Pujara 7) First change, and it’s Patrick Cummins. And listen to the ovation! They love it, this NSW crowd, even though both those bowlers are from this state. This over doesn’t work so well for Cummins as some recent ones in Melbourne though, as Agarwal twice drives a brace into the off side, then feels sufficiently warmed up to play a crisp cover drive from the last ball for four.

Raymond Reardon has had his imagination excited by my toupee reference, and is asking if there’s a best XI of balding cricketers. Well, off the top of my head...

Hanuma Vihari has to be in there, for his Kingpin work in Perth. Nathan Lyon, for the very public forum of his change, starting with a lush head of hair when he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara on debut in Galle in 2011, to the streamlined shaved look he has now, following Jimeoin’s edict of “You can go, but you’ll go now on my terms.” Chris Harris would have to get a gig, for his flying-saucer bowling approach. And Ashton Agar, for his dramatically abrupt and tragically youthful change from teen dream to billiard equipment.

12.01am GMT

6th over: India 22-1 (Agarwal 5, Pujara 7) That’s more like the Pujara we know and love. Vigil mode, as he sees out a Hazlewood maiden.

11.59pm GMT

5th over: India 22-1 (Agarwal 5, Pujara 7) Nice delivery! Starc finds the inswinger with the new ball, threatening Agarwal, but this is a good opening batsman that India have found. He waits back, plays it late and squeezes it away behind square for three runs. Pujara is up for it this morning, he glances two and then checks a single out to cover, good sharp running.

“What’s your prognosis for this Test, Doc Lemon? I plump for a draw, and so an Indian series.” Please, Andrew Benton – Doctor Lemon is my father. Call me Zesty. But I don’t know where the draw’s coming from, unless you know about a Biblical deluge that the rest of us haven’t been told about. I’ll go on the line to predict that India will romp this in, given Australia’s batting.

11.52pm GMT

4th over: India 16-1 (Agarwal 2, Pujara 4) There is something almost sensual in Cowan’s voice describing Pujara. “He plays the ball so late... softly squirting out to gully.” I’ll leave that image with you. Pujara gently wrists a couple of runs off his ankles to midwicket. Then repeats the dose to a shorter ball off the hip. Defended the rest. Black armbands ahoy, the Australians for former Test cricketer Billy Watson, and the Indians for Ramakant Achrekar, who coached Sachin Tendulkar.

11.45pm GMT

3rd over: India 12-1 (Agarwal 2, Pujara 0) Agarwal off the mark as Starc pitches full, and a checked defensive shot fetches two past the bowler. Plays the shorter ball well, defending on his toes. Remember you can contact me via Twitter or on the email: Mirza Nurkic on the latter is claiming one of the anthems from earlier. “It’s called Mirza on the dancefloor,” is the claim. I’ll allow it.

11.43pm GMT

2nd over: India 10-1 (Agarwal 0, Pujara 0) A win for Hazlewood in his first over, as Pujara comes to the crease shadow-batting a forward defensive the whole way.

11.38pm GMT

WICKET! Rahul c Marsh b Hazlewood 9

That didn’t take long. Rahul edges the first ball of JH’s over into the ground again, coming half-forward and softly at the ball. But the third ball hits higher on the bat, towards the shoulder, and there’s no keeping those ones down. Straight into the cordon where Marsh waits at first slip.

Updated at 11.40pm GMT

11.35pm GMT

1st over: India 6-0 (Agarwal 0, Rahul 5) Away we go. Starc with the new ball, coming in with the Bradman Stand behind him from the Paddington End. An unconvincing start for both batsmen, Agarwal missing a full ball and surviving an appeal as it was angling down leg, then after he takes a leg bye, Rahul edges along the ground through gully for four. Then an inside edge for one, and Agarwal is beaten outside off by a beauty. Agarwal replaced Rahul in the last Test, but now they’re playing a match together, as childhood friends who had a distant dream of doing exactly this. Nice stuff, though Starc wants to make it as brief as possible. Another play-and-miss ends the over.

“That’s the best over with the new ball Mitch Starc has bowled this summer,” says Ed Cowan on ABC radio. “The key was the length.”

11.29pm GMT

Great Southern Land is also arguably an anthem, and it echoes around the SCG as the teams walk out to the middle: eleven Australians and two Indians, and two Englishmen officiating: Kettleborough and Gould. Hold onto your toupees, we’re about to take flight.

11.26pm GMT

This is an anthem. Need I go on?

11.26pm GMT

This is an anthem.

11.24pm GMT

Anthem time, everyone standing at the SCG. Pah. This is an anthem.

11.21pm GMT

This is... appealingly niche. When’s the last time two left-arm spinners played as specialist bowlers?

11.07pm GMT


India are missing two Sharmas: Rohit is at home for the birth of his child, and Ishant has a rib injury. Ravi Ashwin is also not quite fit, so Ravindra Jadeja will retain his place, while the wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav will come in for Ishant. In the batting, Hanuma Vihari will drop from opener to No6 to replace Rohit, while KL Rahul comes back as opener. Got it?

For Australia, Finch is out, Khawaja will open, Labuschagne at three, as speculated. Meanwhile, down the order, Peter Handscomb will come in for Mitchell Marsh. Paine stays at No7, with the same bowling quartet as the previous three Tests.
















Shaun Marsh








Updated at 11.10pm GMT

11.00pm GMT

India win the toss and will bat.

Yep. That’s it. Australia’s job just got a whole lot harder. Kohli says “it looks like a good wicket with some covering of grass on it, it will get tougher and tougher to bat and the spinners later will come into the game.”

Updated at 11.05pm GMT

10.56pm GMT

Now then. It’s been all but confirmed that Marnus Labuschagne will bat at No3. Fair enough in a way, he bats there for Queensland. Not so fair enough in another way, in that he averages 28 with the bat in the Shield this season, which isn’t exactly your first criterion for your Test first drop.

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.

It’s mostly a dubious call because the alibi for getting Labuschagne into the team was because he can bowl leg-spin, and Justin Langer and co. wanted another bowling option. But then, that’s an entirely pointless move given the SCG hasn’t offered anything to spinners in about a decade. A crazy selection choice, given Mitch Marsh couldn’t find a run in Melbourne, might have been bringing in the next-best batsman in the country.

10.44pm GMT

For the next 17 minutes while selection dilemmas still exist, you can enjoy Adam Collins’ preview about selection dilemmas. In 18 minutes we’ll only have selection regrets.

Related: Australia and India face selection headaches before fourth Test

10.43pm GMT

I’d like to think that the Mudgee Guardian is our sister paper. What say you, Mudgee Guardian?

10.42pm GMT

We’re 20 minutes from the toss. We don’t have teams as yet, because both sides are still considering their options, or keeping the others guessing. There are a few permutations going about. The surface this morning is as follows.

10.37pm GMT

Happy New Year

It’s Test match, it’s Test match time. (You know when I’m wearing my Test match socks that means it’s Test match time.) Happy 2019 to all you cricketing miscreants and layabouts and ruffians, and the respectable members of society amongst your number too. Here we go from Sydney, home of Moreton Bay figs and Kenneth Slessor, citadel of humidity and flashes of sparkling blue. The bridge is lit, the teams are gathered, and we’re about to embark on the final voyage of this series to see whether India can mark a first ever series win in Australia, or whether the home side can claw back to 2-2.


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