Mumbai Indians saw their Indian Premier League title defence come to an end on Friday, despite recording an impressive 42-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Kolkata Knight Riders' emphatic triumph 24 hours earlier had left the two-time reigning champions with a nigh-on impossible task of qualifying, Rohit Sharma's side needing to win by the small matter of 171 runs to squeeze into the top four.

They did keep those exceedingly slim hopes alive with a superb batting display, Ishan Kishan leading the way at the top of the order with a blazing knock of 84 from just 32 deliveries.

Suryakumar Yadav kept the big hits coming in the closing stages too, smashing 82 as Mumbai finished on 235-9, comfortably the highest team score in the competition since the 2021 season resumed.

Already certain to end up bottom of the table, Sunrisers started strongly in their reply but were never truly in contention, captain Manish Pandey's unbeaten 69 the highlight as they finished on 193-8.

The result means the Knight Riders join Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings and table-topping Delhi Capitals in the play-offs.

Mumbai show promise for the future

There will be no hat-trick of IPL triumphs for the Indians, who will be on the outside looking in when the play-offs begin. Any hopes of a miraculous result disappeared quickly in the second innings, Sunrisers opening duo Jason Roy and Abhishek Sharma made 34 and 33 respectively when Mumbai had needed to bowl them out for just 64.

Sun seemingly setting for Warner

David Warner has struggled for form this season with Hyderabad, averaging just 24.37 at a strike-rate of 107.73 runs per 100 deliveries before losing his place in the team. It seems it could be his last year with the franchise, as he thanked Sunrisers fans for a "great ride" in an Instagram post hinting at his impending departure.

Australia captain Aaron Finch has confirmed he will open the batting with the out-of-form David Warner at the T20 World Cup.

Warner has made only two runs in as many innings for bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad since the Indian Premier League resumed in the UAE, finding himself dropped for a second time in the tournament.

The 34-year-old lost the captaincy before the competition was halted in India due to the coronavirus pandemic and has not played a T20 for his country for over a year.

Finch expects to be ready for Australia's opening game of the T20 World Cup against South Africa in Dubai on October 23 as he recovers from knee surgery and the skipper has given his backing to Warner.

Asked if Warner will be his opening partner, he replied: "Yep, absolutely. He's one of the best players to ever play the game for Australia.

"I've got no doubt that his preparation, while he would love to be playing for Hyderabad no doubt, I know that he's still training away. He'll be good to go."

 

Finch went under the knife in August and has stepped up his rehabilitation with the World Cup fast approaching.

"Over the last couple of weeks my recovery has progressed really well so it's looking more and more likely that I'll be fit and ready to go for them," he said.

"And just in terms of the intensity that I've been able to train, the amount of accelerations, decelerations, putting load through my knee, that's all really positive. So, yeah, I've got no issues.

"I had probably my biggest session in terms of fielding, changing direction, and all that stuff with batting involved as well so that's gone as well as it could. I had a meeting with the surgeon yesterday and he was really happy with where it's at."

Lockdown restrictions have hampered Australia's preparations, but Finch is confident that should not be too much of an issue.

He said: "Training indoors or training just in the nets is no comparison obviously to game intensity so the two warm-up games and the lead-in to the World Cup is going to be really crucial.

"We get out of quarantine, I think there's three days of practice scheduled, and then two warm-up games, so they're going to be really important to get guys up to speed as quick as possible.

"But I've got a lot of confidence in the experience of the group. We've got guys who have come off long lay-offs before. We've got guys who have come off injuries before, and it's not really all that much different when you're trying to get yourself up to speed quickly.

"I think that will play into their hands and might allow us to be a little bit fresher, to be honest."

Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are the big names who will return to the Australia set up for the T20 World Cup.

The four stars did not feature in Australia's recent tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh. Aaron Finch's team suffered a 4-1 defeat in the latter series, while they also lost the T20 series to the Windies.

However, Australia's white-ball captain will be able to call on big hitters Smith, Warner and Maxwell, as well as paceman Cummins, for the World Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October and November.

They are joined by Josh Inglis, who has been rewarded for his outstanding form with a first international call-up.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a brilliant domestic season in both Australia and England, having been the leading run scorer in county cricket's T20 competition, and takes his place in the 15-man squad.

"Josh has been on our radar for some time with his performances in white ball cricket and more recently in the Vitality Blast where he topped the run charts," selection chair George Bailey said.

"He offers the squad flexibility in the batting order with his adaptability, counterattacking ability and power striking. He is a player we are excited about for the future."

Alex Carey is the biggest name to miss out at Inglis' expense, with Matthew Wade the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Nathan Ellis, Dan Christian and Daniel Sams have been named as travelling reserves.

Australia's T20 World Cup squad: 

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams.

Several top Australian cricketers including Pat Cummins, Marcus Stoinis and David Warner, have withdrawn from the white-ball tour of the West Indies, Cricket Australia has announced.

In addition, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, and Daniel Sams have also requested that they not be considered for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh for various reasons.

"We are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the National Selection Panel respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour," said head selector Trevor Hohns.

“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes Series. Steve was disappointed to miss the tour with the decision made on medical grounds. International tours in the time of Covid-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes.

"They also present opportunities for others and, in this case, the chance to push for selection in the Australian men’s T20 World Cup squad later this year and beyond. This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours.”

The 18-man squad comprises Aaron Finch (c) (Victoria), Ashton Agar (Western Australia), Wes Agar (South Australia), Jason Behrendorff (Western Australia), Alex Carey (South Australia), Dan Christian (New South Wales), Josh Hazlewood (New South Wales), Moises Henriques (New South Wales), Mitchell Marsh (Western Australia), Riley Meredith (Tasmania), Ben McDermott (Tasmania), Josh Philippe (Western Australia), Mitchell Starc (New South Wales), Mitchell Swepson (Queensland), Ashton Turner (Western Australia), Andrew Tye (Western Australia), Matthew Wade (Tasmania), and Adam Zampa (New South Wales).

Australian cricketers, David Warner, and Pat Cummins could be given rest ahead of the West Indies series, as tensions continue to simmer over the latest ball-tampering comments.

The pair were both named as part of a 23- preliminary squad for the July series, which will consist of five T20Is and three ODIs, but recent reports are suggesting that Cricket Australia is contemplating resting the players, in order to give them more time with their families as fissions within the squad have appeared.

The issue came back into the public spotlight after recent comments were made by bowler Collin Bancroft who hinted that the team’s bowlers were aware of the plan to use sandpaper on the ball during the Test against South Africa.

The 2018 incident had led to bans for then Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner and Bancroft.  The team’s bowlers Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Nathan Lyon all issued a statement denying any involvement in the issue but another investigation from Cricket Australia now seems likely.

Several players were left discontented after Warner’s manager, James Erskine recently came out openly to say that the Sandpaper Gate was handled badly and eventually the truth will come out.

 

Jos Buttler smashed a majestic century as Rajasthan Royals compounded Sunrisers Hyderabad's Indian Premier League misery with a dominant 55-run victory.

The Sunrisers, bottom of the standings with six defeats from seven, made the dramatic decision to strip David Warner of their captaincy on Saturday and there was no place in their XI for the deposed Australia opener.

Buttler proceeded to provide the sort of fireworks at the top of the order that are seemingly beyond Warner at present, plundering a maiden T20 ton in style as he smashed 124 from 64 deliveries, with 11 fours and eight sixes, to account for the bulk of an imposing 220-3.

Despite the promise of first-wicket stand of 57 between Manish Pandey (31) and Jonny Bairstow (30), Hyderabad's chase never really threatened and they limped to 165-8 – left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman (3-20) the pick of the Rajasthan attack.

Although he had twice come close with knocks of 49 and 41, Buttler entered the match without a half-century to his name in six previous attempts this season.

The England star was not initially at his fluent best, gutsing his way to a 39-ball fifty after surviving an lbw shout from Rashid Khan on seven, the leg-spinner dismissing Buttler's opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal for 12 in similar fashion.

Supported by skipper Sanju Samson (48) in a 150-run stand for the second wicket, Buttler cut loose. The 15th over, Mohammad Nabi's sole contribution with the ball, disappeared for 21, and by the time Sandeep Sharma (1-50) forced him to drag on, Buttler had already walloped three sixes and a four from the penultimate over.

Pandey and Bairstow made light of Warner's axing, although Mustafizur bowled the former off his pads with a slower ball and the procession that followed Buttler's England colleague perishing at long-on off Rahul Tewatia (1-45) showed Hyderabad's problems are myriad.

New skipper Kane Williamson scored 20 off 21 deliveries and any lingering hope was gone when he became Kartik Tyagi's first IPL wicket.

Kedar Jadhav's run-a-ball 19 was the best any one else could muster and he was bowled to be one of three victims for Chris Morris (3-29).

Patience pays off for Buttler

It seems unusual to flag up how a batsman who flayed the opposition to all parts actually played within himself initially, but Buttler shrewdly recognised his way out of a relative slump. "I think sometimes you have to swallow your ego when you're not in perfect touch," he said when receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"You have to give yourself time and find your way. I tried to stay in and keep the belief that something will click." As the final 25 deliveries Buttler faced disappeared for 74, it was fair to say something exploded.

A new role for Rashid

Khan was into the attack early for Hyderabad, Williamson breaking from Warner's habit of using the spinner in the middle overs. The skipper was partially vindicated by the early wicket and it would have been a very different contest had Buttler not survived.

However, Khan's allocation being used by the 11th over arguably left the Sunrisers exposed to one of the most destructive batsman on the planet and lacking the means to check his charge.

Kane Williamson has been appointed as Sunrisers Hyderabad captain for the remainder of the Indian Premier League after David Warner was axed.

It appears Warner will also be dropped by the struggling Sunrisers for Sunday's game against the Rajasthan Royals after the franchise revealed a change to the overseas combination will be made.

Warner scored a half-century in a midweek defeat to the Chennai Super Kings, but took "full responsibility" for the loss as he "batted too slowly."

The Australia batsman had previously questioned the decision to omit Manish Pandey from the team and Warner could now find himself out of the side, with Jason Roy awaiting his chance.

Sunrisers are rooted to the bottom of the table with five defeats from six matches and New Zealand skipper Williamson will lead them for the rest of the tournament.

A statement released by the franchise on Saturday said: "Sunrisers Hyderabad would like to announce that Kane Williamson will be taking over the captaincy for tomorrow's match and for the remainder of the IPL 2021.

"The team management has also made the decision that they will be changing the overseas combination for tomorrow's match against Rajasthan Royals.

"This decision has not come lightly as the management respects the enormous impact David Warner has had for the franchise over a number of years.

"As we face the remainder of the season, we are sure David will help us thrive for success both on and off the field."

Chennai Super Kings once again got the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, recording a seventh win in nine meetings by easily chasing down a target of 172.

Ruturaj Gaikwad made 75 - his highest IPL score - and the in-form Faf du Plessis contributed 56 as Chennai triumphed with seven wickets and nine balls to spare at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Rashid Khan (3-36) was the only successful Hyderabad bowler, though even the leg-spinner was not spared from punishment. With a fifth successive win, the Super Kings move above Royal Challengers Bangalore to top of the table.

Hyderabad, in contrast, prop up the rest in the standings; winning the toss was about the only thing that went right for them.

Captain David Warner laboured to 57 from 55 balls and Manish Pandey finished as his team's leading scorer with 61, helping add 106 in combination with his skipper for the second wicket.

However, after Lungi Ngidi (2-35) removed both well-set batsmen, Kane Williamson finally provided some much-needed impetus in the closing overs.

The New Zealand captain hit 26 from the 10 deliveries he faced, raising the question as to why he did not come in earlier in the innings. Kedar Jadhav (12 not out) also contributed a late cameo, though a final score of 171-3 always appeared below par.


Warner signs not good

Warner now has 193 runs at an average of 32.16 in the tournament this year, while the left-hander reached the notable personal milestone of 10,000 in his first-class career in the shortest format.

Still, his strike-rate of 110.28 runs per 100 deliveries in 2021 is well below his IPL career mark of 140.13. The skipper's frustration was obvious in this innings, as he struggled to pierce the field, albeit he did manage three fours and a pair of sixes.

Openers dominate in chase

Having seen Hyderabad struggle for momentum, Chennai made sure they did not have similar issues in their reply. Gaikwad recorded his fifth IPL half-century thanks to 12 boundaries and Du Plessis played his part in an opening stand worth 129 to take over as the leading run-scorer in the tournament.

While Rashid dismissed the pair – as well as getting Moeen Ali caught for 15 in the deep – Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina, who finished unbeaten on seven and 17 respectively, made sure their team cruised over the line in the penultimate over.

Trent Boult and Rahul Chahar took three wickets apiece as Mumbai Indians claimed their second victory of the 2021 Indian Premier League against winless Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Mumbai posted a modest 150-5 from their allocation on Saturday with the total boosted largely to some valuable late-order hitting from Kieron Pollard.

Jonny Bairstow (43 off 22) laid a solid platform for Hyderabad's reply with an aggressive knock alongside the more cautious David Warner (36 off 34).

But both men departed to soft dismissals before India leg-spinner Rahul (3-19) stifled the middle order and Boult (3-28) blew away the tail as Hyderabad were bowled out for 137.

Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma (32) and fellow opener Quinton de Kock (40) made good use of the powerplay after they had elected to bat first as they picked up length well, punishing anything short, on a slow pitch in Chennai.

Mumbai's innings stuttered in the middle overs as Vijay Shankar (2-19) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-29) put the brakes on before Pollard (35 not out) whacked 16 crucial runs off the last over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Boult and Jasprit Bumrah initially made life tough for Hyderabad before Bairstow exploded in with a brutal assault, striking three fours and four sixes before he stepped on his stumps trying to work a ball from Krunal Pandya.

Hyderabad skipper Warner was then run out and Rahul's leggies swung the momentum Mumbai's way with three wickets before Boult and Bumrah (1-14) proved formidable at the death.

The victory took Mumbai top of the table, until Sunday at least, while Hyderabad are languishing at the bottom.

Sunrisers need more from Bairstow and Warner

In the third over of their reply, England's Bairstow launched a towering six off Boult straight down the ground which shattered the glass on a drinks fridge next to the Sunrisers' dugout.

His 43 off 22 balls got Hyderabad's reply off to a great start while Australian Warner played a more methodical innings to put his side within striking distance.

Both openers, however, were out to soft dismissals – Warner made a daft call for a single while Bairstow was out hit wicket – and the pair need to place greater value on their wickets.

Boult and Bumrah masterful 

Rahul caught the eye with his with his leg spin as he removed the top-six wickets of Manish Pandey, Virat Singh and Abhishek Sharma.

But at the business end of the game New Zealand left-armer Boult and India paceman Bumrah, who did not concede a single boundary, gave an exhibition in how to bowl at the death to snuff out any lingering Hyderabad's hopes.

That was backed up by some superb fielding from Hardik Pandya, who prowled the infield sharply and claimed two run outs including Warner.

Royal Challengers Bangalore made it two wins from two in the Indian Premier League as Sunrisers Hyderabad's miserable record at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium continued on Wednesday.

Glenn Maxwell hit his first half-century in the tournament since 2016 as the Royal Challengers – who had beaten defending champions Mumbai Indians in their opening fixture – posted 149-8 after being put into bat.

Hyderabad appeared on course to prevail in pursuit of their target when they reached 96-1, only for the departure of captain David Warner – caught in the deep for 54 - to trigger a dramatic collapse.

Shahbaz Ahmed claimed three wickets in an over, including Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey with back-to-back deliveries, to completely change the complexion of a run chase that fell apart.

While Rashid Khan made 17 in a hurry the Sunrisers still finished up six runs short on 143-9, meaning they have still yet to win a completed fixture at the venue in Chennai.

Bangalore's innings had been similar too, captain Virat Kohli making 33 before his departure to Jason Holder started a mid-innings wobble, his team slipping from 91-2 to 109-6.

However, Maxwell eventually mastered the tough batting conditions, producing a late onslaught as 39 runs came from the final three overs. He was dismissed off the last delivery of the innings for 59, caught behind to give Holder final figures of 3-30.

Taking it to the Max

Maxwell endured a lean 2020 IPL campaign in the United Arab Emirates, averaging 15.42 for Kings XI Punjab as he made only 108 runs. Having been released ahead of the auction, Bangalore already appear to be getting plenty for their money.

The Australian has now scored 98 runs in his two innings for the Royal Challengers, who sit on top of the table in the embryonic stages of the season.

Chennai trouble for chasing teams

After Kolkata Knight Riders had faltered in pursuit of a 153-run target to lose narrowly against Mumbai at the ground 24 hours earlier, Sunrisers let the same situation happen when seemingly well on top.

Shahbaz (3-7) bowled only two overs, yet the second from the left-arm spinner saw Bairstow, Pandey - who struggled to up the pace as he made 38 from 39 balls - and Abdul Samad all caught off top-edged attempts to go big to the leg side.

Australia face a race against time to win the fourth Test and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy from India after rain wreaked havoc on day four in Brisbane.

Tim Paine's Australia batted for most of Monday and set India 328 for victory in the series decider after the hosts were bowled out for 294 midway through an extended final session.

India were 4-0 when the covers were brought out at 16:35 local time and stayed on at the Gabba, where the tourists require 324 more runs to win but only need a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar crown, with the series deadlocked.

Australia resumed on 21-0 before Mohammed Siraj – who claimed his maiden five-for – spearheaded a chaotic collapse after the home team lost 34-4 in the morning session.

Openers Marcus Harris (38) and David Warner (48) fell victim to Shardul Thakur (4-61) and Washington Sundar (1-80) respectively, before Siraj stole the show by dismissing Marnus Labuschagne (25) and Matthew Wade (0) within three deliveries – leaving Australia 123-4.

After dropping Steve Smith on 42 and Cameron Green on 14, Siraj held his nerve to claim the prized scalp of the former Australia skipper for 55.

Green (37) did not last much longer as Thakur also sent Paine (27) back to the pavilion, with the Australians 242-7.

After umpires brought the tea break forward due to wet weather, Australia's tail tried to add to the total – Pat Cummins' unbeaten 28 and a quick-fire 13 from spinner Nathan Lyon aiding their cause.

India pair Rohit Sharma (4 not out) and Shubman Gill (0) will return to the crease as the thrilling series heads for a draw.

 

Siraj celebrates maiden five-for

It was a day to remember for Siraj, who broke through for his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

After making his Test debut on Boxing Day in Melbourne, the 26-year-old has made an immediate impact for the touring side.

All eyes on Paine

Has Paine given Australia enough time to win and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy? With wet weather in Brisbane, his decision to bat for much of the penultimate day before being bowled out has raised questions.

More rain is forecast for Tuesday.

Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar halted Australia's momentum before India were bowled out for 336 on a frustrating day for the hosts in the fourth Test at the Gabba.

Australia appeared on track to clean up India's batting line-up and maintain a healthy lead on day three of the final match after leaving the tourists in a perilous position of 186-6, but unheralded pair Shardul (67) and Sundar (62) put on a remarkable 123-run stand.

Josh Hazlewood's five-wicket haul finally helped put an end to India's stubborn resistance – Australia heading into their second innings with a 33-run advantage on Sunday.

David Warner (20 not out) and Marcus Harris (1 not out) saw out the remaining half-hour of play to lead Australia to 21-0 at stumps, a lead of 54 runs, as Tim Paine's side face a race against time to win the Test and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

After rain wreaked havoc on Saturday, India resumed 62-2 in response to Australia's first-innings 369 in Brisbane, where Hazlewood (5-57) and Mitchell Starc (2-88) managed to claim the prized scalps of Cheteshwar Pujara (25) and captain Ajinkya Rahane (37) in the morning session.

Hazlewood removed Mayank Agarwal (38) with the second delivery after lunch, and the Australia star almost dismissed Rishabh Pant (23) to leave India 186-6.

But Shardul and Sundar combined to sensationally thwart Australia, who toiled tirelessly before eventually bowling out India.

Star Australia opener Warner then raced out the blocks with a quick-fire 20 runs, including three boundaries, to navigate a tricky end to the day.

 

India duo come to the rescue

A remarkable seventh-wicket stand kept Australia at bay and clawed India within touching distance of the hosts' first-innings total.

It was an unlikely pairing that rescued India – Sundar celebrating a half-century on his Test debut, while Shardul also raised his bat for a maiden Test fifty.

Hazlewood huffs and puffs

For the second time in the blockbuster series, Hazlewood recorded a five-for against India.

It was far from easy for Australia, but Hazlewood battled as Pujara, Agarwal, Pant, Navdeep Saini (5) and Mohammed Siraj (13) fell victim to the fast bowler.

David Warner has apologised to the India team and said he would "expect better" from Australia fans after the tourists were allegedly subjected to racial abuse at the SCG.

Six people were ejected from the iconic Sydney venue on day four after India paceman Mohammed Siraj reported he was the target of abuse while he was fielding on the boundary.

The tourists also reported alleged racial abuse of Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on Saturday.

Play came to a halt around 10 minutes on Sunday, with umpires and security guards holding discussions before the spectators were removed by New South Wales Police.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) strongly condemned the reported incidents and offered Cricket Australia (CA) all necessary support with an investigation.

India showed great application to bat out for a draw on the final day and Australia opener Warner offered praise along with an apology to Ajinkya Rahane's side on Tuesday ahead of the series decider at The Gabba.

He posted on Instagram: "It was great to be back out on the park again this week.

"Was not the ideal result for us but this is what Test cricket is all about. 5 days of tough cricket and well done to our guys for working as hard as we could, congrats to India in the way they fought hard for the draw, and that's why we love this game, it's not easy.

"Move onto Brisbane now for the decider and what a place the Gabba is to play at.

"I’d also like to say sorry to @mohammedsirajofficial and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd."

Tim Paine hinted David Warner's inclusion for Australia in the third Test against India may not be the only change to the side.

Warner is set to return from an adductor injury when the third Test begins in Sydney on Thursday, and Will Pucovski appears set to make his international debut.

Australia captain Paine confirmed on Wednesday a team had been picked – but he would not publicly name it just yet.

"We've got a team, we're just not releasing it at the moment," he told a news conference.

"The boys are still training at the moment so we'll get through that first unscathed and then we'll try and get a team out as quickly as we can after that.

"Obviously with David playing and potentially more, there's some conversation that need to be had first."

Paine confirmed Pucovski would open if he played, with Joe Burns already omitted from the squad.

That is likely to see Matthew Wade return to the middle-order and Travis Head potentially dropped.

In October and November last year, Pucovski became the first player to score double centuries in consecutive Sheffield Shield innings since Dene Hills in 1997-98.

Paine praised Warner, whose absence has been felt as Australia struggled with the bat in the opening two Tests.

"Davey's been awesome, brings really high intensity, fills guys with confidence around him," he said.

"He's a player that you love having on your side, he's always got plenty to say, really energetic, very professional and I've always loved playing with him and I know he's a player in this team that guys love to have in our side.

"He's made an instant impact with that energy and intensity that he brings.

"Will's been fantastic as well. He's been out of the bubble for a couple of weeks so he's excited, he's fresh, he's been batting really well in the nets and looks ready to go if he was called upon."

Australia will hope the "very likely" return of David Warner can inspire them to regain the series lead as they take on India in the third Test from Thursday.

India produced an impressive turnaround in Melbourne last time out, squaring the series at 1-1 despite being without Virat Kohli and also losing the toss.

Stand-in Ajinkya Rahane stood up in the absence of India's captain, making 112 to set the tourists up for an impressive eight-wicket victory.

However, Australia are undefeated in their last nine Tests against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Indeed, their only defeat in meetings between the teams at the venue came in January 1978.

The hosts reacted to the defeat by dropping out-of-sorts opener Joe Burns, having made just 63 runs in four innings during the series.

Warner and Will Pucovski were both injured and missed the first two Tests but head coach Justin Langer gave a positive update on the former, who he thinks will be able to play through the pain.

Uncapped prospect Pucovski, meanwhile, has passed concussion examinations so will challenge Travis Head for a place in the side.

BUBBLE CONCERN FOR INDIA

India had to isolate five members of their squad as a precaution in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test, amid concerns over a breach of protocols within the bio-secure bubble.

Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw trained away from the rest of the squad after a video on social media showed them dining at an indoor venue in Melbourne.

However, both teams - and members of the support staff - tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Sydney to continue the four-match series.

Rohit has not featured for India on the tour so far due to injury, including missing the white-ball games that preceded the Tests, but could be involved at the SCG.

Batsman KL Rahul is out of the rest of the series with a wrist injury, ending speculation he could replace struggling Mayank Agarwal.

LANGER CONFIDENT OF SMITH RECOVERY

While the expected return of Warner could give them a boost, Australia will also be looking for a turnaround from Steve Smith.

Smith has only managed scores of 1, 0 and 8 during his completed innings in Adelaide and Melbourne, with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin having him caught in two of those three dismissals.

Ranked at three in the ICC rankings, he had only failed to reach double figures in two of his 14 previous innings since returning to Test cricket in the 2019 Ashes.

"Imagine how good we'll be when he does start batting well," said a confident Langer. "That's how I look at it.

"He hasn't had the best of series so far, he'll be the first to admit that, but my gosh, what I know about great players is the longer they miss out, the sooner it is that they're coming good again.

"So that puts a big smile on my face. I don't coach Steve Smith. Steve Smith coaches himself and I'm sure he's going to work it out. 

"He is a great player and I can't wait to watch him bat this Test match and the next Test match."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- India have lost only two of their last nine Tests against Australia (W5, D2) - they now search for back-to-back wins against them for just the second time since 2013.
- Australia's loss in the second match snapped an eight-game winning run in Tests at home; they will now look to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since November 2016.
- The home team dropped eight catches last time out in Melbourne, their most in a single Test since dropping nine against India in the New Year's Test of 2012 in Sydney.
- Ricky Ponting (8) is the only player to have logged more centuries at the Sydney Cricket Ground than David Warner (7) in international cricket.
- No player has taken more wickets (10) or posted a better bowling economy (2.1) than India's Ravichandran Ashwin throughout this series.
- Nathan Lyon is six wickets shy of becoming just the third Australian bowler to take 400 in men's Tests (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath); his 89 wickets against India are his most against any team.

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