Australia and India will both make changes for the winner-takes-all-showdown in Brisbane, where a highly eventful series comes to a conclusion with the fourth Test.

The two nations are tied at 1-1 heading into the final game after India, despite being beset by injury issues, successfully batted out the final day to secure a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

There has been little time for rest and recovery for those involved, while much of the media attention in the aftermath has surrounded the on-field behaviour of Australia's current captain, Tim Paine, and the man he replaced in the role, Steve Smith. 

Paine was fined for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during the third Test, though it was his verbal sparring with Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day – plus a plethora of dropped catches behind the stumps – that put him in the spotlight. 

Now, though, the skipper and his side must focus on trying to secure a victory at the Gabba – a venue that holds good memories for Australia but less so India, who have failed to triumph there in six previous visits. 

The hosts will again have a new opening partnership on duty too, with Will Pucovski ruled out due to a shoulder injury after a promising Test debut. Marcus Harris will take his place at the top of the order. 

Australia are set to go with an unchanged attack despite the short turnaround - the previous game finished on Monday - meaning off-spinner Nathan Lyon will play in his 100th Test. 

India, meanwhile, have not given anything away in terms of team selection, though at least two changes will be needed to replace injured duo Ravindra Jadeja, who has had surgery on a dislocated thumb, and Hanuma Vihari.

Jasprit Bumrah is also reportedly a major doubt, potentially leaving the tourists without their leading paceman for the decider. 

"If he can play, he will play," India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Bumrah on the eve of the game. "The injuries are still being monitored. Our medical staff is working with all the players.” 

It has been a busy trip for India's medical staff, that is for sure. Still, whoever takes the field for India will know a draw will be enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 

 

LYON REACHES SPECIAL LANDMARK

Lyon will become the 13th Australian to reach a century of Tests, while he is only four away from reaching 400 wickets in the format.

"I look at the 12 other guys who have played over 100 Test matches for Australia, and they're pure legends in my eyes, not just for Cricket Australia but all around the world," he said ahead of the personal landmark. 

"I'm going to pinch myself each and every day to see my name amongst those players and be the 13th player to do so. It's pretty amazing. I've tried in the past not to look too far ahead, but I'm pretty excited about this one."

His career haul includes dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times apiece, making the India duo the batsmen he has dismissed the most in Tests.

PATCHED-UP INDIA CAN MAKE HISTORY

If India can record a victory and end Australia's 31-Test unbeaten run at the Gabba, they will secure back-to-back Test series triumphs on Australian soil for the first time.

It will be an even more impressive achievement when taking into consideration the absences. Captain Virat Kohli returned home after the first Test, while Mohammed Shami also only played the once.  Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, has not featured at all. Now, with Vihari and Jadeja sidelined, there will be a new-look middle order.

Wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha could both feature; the former had his issues with the gloves in Sydney but made a counter-attacking 97 in the final innings that helped save the Test.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia are undefeated in their last 31 Tests in Brisbane (W24, D7). Their last defeat in such a fixture at the venue came in November 1988.
- A win for Australia in this match would secure three consecutive Test series victories - the last time they achieved such a feat was from November 2015 to February 2016.
- Pat Cummins has a bowling strike rate of 36.4 in Tests in Brisbane, the best of any player to record 500 deliveries there. His best Test innings figures came at the ground, as he claimed 6-23 against Sri Lanka in January 2019.
- Pujara has been removed four times (in six innings) by Cummins during this series, the most instances by any bowler against a batsman; scoring just 42 in response.
- Australia batsmen have been dismissed lbw on 11 occasions in the three previous Tests; India have only been out in that manner three times. All five lbw decisions at the SCG were against the hosts.

Will Pucovski has been ruled out of the fourth Test against India, with Marcus Harris to open for Australia.

Pucovski injured his shoulder during the drawn third Test in Sydney and the opener will miss the final game of the series, which is locked at 1-1.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed on Thursday that Harris would replace his Victoria team-mate for the Test in Brisbane, beginning on Friday.

"He tried to train this morning and didn't quite come up," Paine told a news conference.

"He'll have a bit of work to do with our medicos to see where he goes from here, but he's obviously missing this Test match and Marcus Harris will replace him."

Harris returns for his first Test since the 2019 Ashes and the left-hander has averaged 24.06 in his previous 17 innings at the level.

The 28-year-old scored 355 runs at an average of 118.33 to begin the Sheffield Shield season for Victoria, while he made scores of 35, 25 not out, 26 and five for Australia A against India last month.

Paine is looking forward to seeing what Harris can deliver as Australia aim for a series win.

"[He's] been working his backside off in our hub. He deserves his opportunity," he said.

"He's a really relaxed type of character, so he's one we certainly enjoy having in and around our group."

Australia are unbeaten in their past 31 Tests at the Gabba, winning 24 and drawing seven.

The Gabba is the only venue in Australia where India have played more than once without winning – drawing once and losing five times.

Dimuth Karunaratne believes Sri Lanka have a "clear advantage" over England in the two-match Test series due to the tourists' inexperience of playing in the conditions they will face.

Joe Root's side completed a whitewash in Sri Lanka the last time they met in the longest format in November 2018.

England start the series in the Galle bio-secure bubble on Thursday with the aim of securing a third consecutive Test series triumph over Sri Lanka for the first time.

They will have a very different side to the one selected at the same venue just over two years ago, with Rory Burns, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Keaton Jennings not featuring.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes is expected to be overlooked despite being named man of the series in that 3-0 success in Sri Lanka, while batsman Dan Lawrence is poised to make his debut.

Sri Lanka have won only one of their past seven Tests and were beaten 2-0 by South Africa recently, but captain Karunaratne believes they can respond against England.

"We have a clear advantage against this team, because they've got a few new players," the batsman said.

"From the last series they played against us, Stokes is not in their squad and Jennings is not in the team. And Stokes is the guy who balanced their team. The players in the current squad don't have much experience in these conditions."

Karunaratne, however, knows Sri Lanka - who are able to call upon Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Suranga Lakmal - will be in for a battle. 

 "That said, we shouldn't take it easy. They've prepared well, and I've seen how well they've prepared. They've also been playing cricket and they were the first ones to start playing Tests again after COVID hit.

"Their fitness levels are still up there. We only started again against South Africa, and because of the injury concerns, we've lost players."

Sri Lanka and England both have plenty to ponder over team selection as they prepare to finally face each other in Test action again. 

The nations were due to meet in March 2020, only for their two-match series to be postponed amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic. England were playing a tour game in Colombo at the time when the decision was taken to cut short the trip and head home. 

They have returned 10 months later for a rearranged tour, with the ongoing COVID-19 situation seeing them hosted in a bio-secure bubble for both games in Galle. 

However, Moeen Ali will miss the first Test – and possibly the next one that follows – after a positive test result upon arrival. Chris Woakes had to self-isolate having been considered a close contact, so missed out on England's only warm-up game. 

Moeen was joint-leading wicket-taker with fellow spinner Jack Leach - taking 18 wickets apiece - when England swept the hosts 3-0 on spin-friendly pitches when visiting Sri Lanka in late 2018, though captain Joe Root is aware the surfaces may not be the same now.

"We are very aware that the conditions might be very different to the last time we played here," Root told the media.

"We are not going to have too many preconceived ideas about what we are going to come up against. It's quite dangerous and lazy to walk into a series like that." 

The tourists are without Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes – who are both rested with a long tour to India to follow immediately afterwards – while opening batsman Rory Burns has remained in England for the birth of his first child. 

As for the hosts, a recent 2-0 Test series defeat in South Africa came at a cost in terms of injuries. Dhananjaya de Silva and Kasun Rajitha are both sidelined, plus Oshada Fernando has had no match practice after a spell out of action. 

However, there is good news over the fitness of batsman Dinesh Chandimal – who missed the second Test against the Proteas – and seamer Suranga Lakmal, plus former captain Angelo Mathews is back as Sri Lanka aim for a first Test win over their opponents since a famous triumph at Headingley in 2014. 


JONNY BE GOOD AGAIN?

With holes to fill in the batting order due to key absences, England are set to hand a debut to Dan Lawrence and recall Jonny Bairstow, who appears to be the choice to bat at number three with Zak Crawley moving up to open.

Bairstow made a century at that position in the previous Test against Sri Lanka, the third time in four first-innings knocks he has reached three figures against them. However, he has not played in the format since 2019, having lost his place after averaging 18.6 in 19 innings during that year.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes played a starring role for England in Sri Lanka last time, averaging 69.25 with the bat, but looks set to miss out on the final XI.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne's century in the second Test against South Africa was one of few positives for Sri Lanka in a 10-wicket defeat in Johannesburg to start the new year.

The opening batsman has averaged 66 on home soil in Tests since 2018 (14 innings), though none of his 10 career hundreds have come against England. 

Having Mathews back should ease some of the run-scoring burden, too. The 33-year-old may not contribute much with the ball these days but does average 45.31 with the bat in Tests. He will go into the opening game needing just 19 more runs to reach 6,000 in the format.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have won their previous two bilateral Test series against Sri Lanka; they are attempting to record three successive victories against them for the first time.
- Sri Lanka come into the series having only mustered one win in their past seven Test matches (D2 L4); they have just suffered a 2-0 series defeat against the Proteas, losing the opener by an innings margin before slumping to a 10-wicket loss in the second match of the series in South Africa.
- The hosts have only lost once in five Test matches against England at Galle International Stadium (W2 D2). However, the most recent meeting between the sides at the venue was won by the tourists.
- Sri Lanka have managed to get the umpire's decision overturned in 23 per cent of their referrals in Tests since the start of 2019. Only Australia (22 per cent) have a lower rate; England's record stands at 31 per cent across that period.
- Despite making his Test debut in Sri Lanka over 13 years ago, Stuart Broad has only played three Test matches in the country. He has picked up three wickets there (averaging 83), but is six scalps away from going above Courtney Walsh (519) and into sixth in the list of all-time leading Test wicket-takers.

Australia coach Justin Langer slammed the criticism of Steve Smith, labelling it a "load of rubbish".

Smith was questioned after footage showed him standing at the crease and shaping up as if he was batting, including marking a guard, as India survived for a draw on the final day of the third Test in Sydney.

His actions at the crease forced India's Rishabh Pant to retake his own guard before play resumed, with the moment becoming a hot topic on Twitter.

But Langer hit out at the talk about Smith, who was sacked as Australia captain and banned for 12 months following the ball-tampering scandal during the tour of South Africa in 2018.

"I literally cannot believe some of the rubbish I read about Steve Smith, absolute load of rubbish," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"If anyone knows Steve Smith, he's a bit quirky. We've all laughed about it for the last couple of years and I've spoken about it privately about how he's a bit quirky. What Steve Smith does at the crease, he does it probably most games, he's just thinking about the game.

"Anyone who suggests for one millisecond he was trying to do something untoward, way out of line, absolutely out of line. On that wicket, it was that flat, and it was like concrete, you need 15-inch spikes to make an indent on the crease and he went nowhere near the crease.

"I thought that was absolutely ludicrous and again in the last couple of years since he's been back, he has been exemplary on and off the field, he has let his bat do the talking, he was abused like I've never seen anything through England and he just kept smiling and letting his bat do the talking, give me a break, give me a break."

Australia captain Tim Paine, meanwhile, apologised on Tuesday for his behaviour during the third Test, including sledging Ravichandran Ashwin.

Langer backed Paine and said the 36-year-old would remain captain for the foreseeable future.

"You have no idea how much faith I've got in Tim Paine. He didn't have his best day, no doubt about that, but after three years, he has hardly put a hair out of place, he has been outstanding as the Australian captain, everything he does," he said.

"He had a frustrating day. We've got to cut him some slack surely. But having said that when you set a standard as high as he does and as we do, we understand we're going to get criticised when we fall below that, it's not what we're about.

"But Tim Paine, outstanding leader and will continue to be for some time to come yet. He has my 100 per cent support."

The series is locked at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test starting in Brisbane on Friday.

England all-rounder Chris Woakes was keen not to be drawn on Steve Smith's latest controversy - stating only the former Australia captain's actions against India were those of habit or gamesmanship.

Stump cameras showed Smith apparently scuffing up Rishabh Pant's guard in between deliveries as the India wicketkeeper struck a brilliant counter-attacking 97 in Sydney, helping the visitors to a draw in the third Test.

Smith was forced to stand down as Australia skipper and served a ban for his part in the 2018 ball tampering scandal.

His successor Tim Paine also found himself at the centre of controversy after a foul-mouthed exchange with Ravichandran Ashwin, which compounded a dreadful display behind the stumps.

Speaking ahead of England's Test series in Sri Lanka, Woakes looked to remain above the fray when it came to Smith - perhaps mindful of having just entered an Ashes year.

"I'm sure people have got their opinions on it. It's not the first time that I've seen something like that happen," he said.

"The fact it's such a big series, a big player in a big moment probably means it's been blown up a little bit.

"There's only one person who knows whether he was doing it to affect the opposition batsman or not and that's Steve himself.

"You can look at it a few different ways. You can say he was shadow batting, doing what he'd normally do and it's a bit of a habit. Or you could say that he was trying to distract Rishabh. It's one of those things."

Asked whether Australia had been shown to be "up to old tricks again", a smiling Woakes replied: "It's hard for me to say, watching from a million miles away, that he was doing it to get into the Indian batsmen's minds.

"Potentially, but as I said, there's only one person who knows exactly what he was trying to do.

"I know Tim Paine came out and backed him as you'd expect him to do. That's all I can say on the matter."

Woakes was forced to quarantine for the first week of England's tour after travelling to the airport with team-mate Moeen Ali, who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Despite establishing himself as an increasingly pivotal member of Joe Root's side, the 31-year-old acknowledges Thursday's first Test might come too soon for him.

"I'm certainly up against it in terms of time," Woakes said, having revealed his fitness regime over the past week amounted to workouts with fit bands and a medicine ball on his hotel balcony.

"I only had my first bowl yesterday. The other guys have been bowling for nearly a week. The chances of me playing are probably quite slim."

Nevertheless, some unexpected rainfall in Galle might persuade Root to call upon Woakes' mastery of seam and swing on a surface still expected to take plenty of turn.

"The pitch, as you'd expect, does look quite dry. But it has rained quite a bit here in the last few days and the pitch earlier this morning was a bit tacky and spikes went into the surface," he added.

"Whether that plays a part, I don't know."

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 declared he fell short of the standards he sets for himself as Australia captain during the ill-tempered third Test draw against India.

Wicketkeeper Paine shelled three catches as Australia toiled on the final day, with India batting out to a draw in relative comfort as the teams shook hands with the score 334-5 in the fourth innings at the SCG on Monday.

Ravichandran Ashwin finished unbeaten on 39 and was involved in spiteful verbal battle with Paine, which concluded with the gloveman calling him a "d*******".

Australia's conduct as their victory hopes slipped away has come under scrutiny after footage appeared to show former skipper Steve Smith trying to scrub out Rishabh Pant's guard marks on the crease during a thrilling counter-attacking innings of 97 in Sydney.

Having acknowledged his failings after the match, along with being fined 15 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent to umpire Paul Wilson on day three, Smith's successor Paine felt the need to address the media again on Tuesday as his conduct remained a talking point.

"I want to apologise for the way I went about things. I'm someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection of the team," Paine said.

"I let the pressure of the game get to me. It affected my mood and from there, it affected my performance.

"Initially I reflected purely on my wicketkeeping. Last night I reflected on the whole game.

"I've had a really poor game as a leader. I'm a captain who wants to enjoy the game and wants to play the game with a smile on their face. I fell short of my expectations and our team's standards.

"I'm human. I want to apologise for the mistakes I made. It's certainly not a reflection of the way I want to lead this team. We've set high standards over the last few months and yesterday was a blip on the radar and something that I felt that I needed to come out and address.

"I feel that my mood throughout probably the whole Test match was a bit off. The way I spoke to the umpires early on day two was also unacceptable.

"I've got to cop that on the chin. It's not the way I want to lead this Australian team. It's certainly not a reflection of how I want to do it going forward.

"I apologise to our fans and people who heard some of the things I said, it wasn't good enough and particularly from the leader of this team."

The series is level at 1-1 heading into this week's decider at the Gabba in Brisbane, starting Friday.

"I'm really looking forward to getting to Brisbane and bouncing back and playing the game more like Tim Paine plays the game," Paine added. "Yesterday was a poor reflection of that and not something I want to be known for."

India face a host of fitness issues ahead of the quick turnaround in Brisbane.

Ravindra Jadeja is out with a broken thumb, while Pant (arm), Ashwin (back), Cheteshwar Pujara (finger) and Hanuma Vihari (hamstring) must all be assessed, with the latter a major doubt.

Fair or foul? Gamesmanship or unsportsmanlike conduct? Steve Smith found himself in the spotlight after his actions on the final day of the third Test between Australia and India in Sydney.

Smith was at his best with the bat in the match, making scores of 131 and 81 as he returned to form in style after a recent lean spell.

However, it may well be his footwork during Monday's final day will overshadow what he achieved during the rest of the Test.

With India battling to save the game, stump camera footage seen on social media showed Smith standing at the crease during a break in proceedings, the Australian shaping up as if he was batting, including marking a guard.

His actions at the crease forced India's Rishabh Pant to retake his own guard before play resumed, with the moment becoming a hot topic on Twitter.

"Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant's batting guard marks from the crease," former India batsman Virender Sehwag wrote to accompany the footage that was seen on the international feed of the broadcast.

Retweeting Sehwag's post, ex-England captain Michael Vaughan added: "This is very very poor from Steve Smith!!". Meanwhile, David Lloyd, who played and coached England before becoming a television commentator, wrote: "How childish".

Pant did not seem too perturbed by what happened, however, going on to make 97 as India impressively secured a draw.

Smith was sacked as Australia captain following the ball-tampering scandal during the tour of South Africa in 2018. Along with team-mate David Warner, he was banned for 12 months from international and domestic cricket for his involvement in the incident.

Cameron Bancroft, who was the player caught by television cameras appearing to use sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball during the third Test against the Proteas at Newlands, was handed a nine-month suspension.

Tim Paine, who took over as skipper of the Test side, was also trending on social media after a verbal exchange with India's Ravichandran Ashwin during the final session of play at the SCG.

Ashwin pulled away before a delivery as he and Paine shared words, their conversation picked up by the stump microphone.

England paceman Stuart Broad pointed out on Twitter that such situations are "part of the game" during a Test match, though did suggest Paine's use of an expletive could land him in trouble.

The wicketkeeper was indeed fined after the game, though lost 15 per cent of his match fee as punishment for dissent after questioning an umpiring decision during day three of the match.

Ashwin ended up unbeaten on 39 to help India survive and remain level at 1-1 in the series ahead of the final game in Brisbane.

Tim Paine acknowledged he needed to "set a better example" for those watching on after the Australia captain was fined for showing dissent at an umpiring decision in the third Test against India.

India managed to lose just three wickets as they secured a draw on a dramatic final day in Sydney, leaving the series delicately poised at 1-1 with the one game to play.

Australia missed chances in the field and wicketkeeper Paine, who dropped three catches behind the stumps, became involved in a verbal exchange with India's Ravichandran Ashwin that was caught on the stump microphone.

However, he was punished by the International Cricket Council for an incident that happened on the third day, having questioned a decision to umpire Paul Wilson.

Paine - who was fined 15 per cent of his match fee, as well as having one demerit point added to his disciplinary record - admitted the offence, making clear in his post-match press conference that he did not mean to be disrespectful to Wilson.

"We all know that the stump microphones are part of the broadcast. It's great to bring the viewers that close, [for them] to be able to hear it," he told the media.

"I probably set a pretty poor example with my use of language. I'm certainly disappointed with myself after I heard that.

"We know we've got to be careful. I've known and had Paul umpiring me for some time, I certainly didn't mean to be disrespectful to him. It was just a heat-of-the-moment audible obscenity, I think that's what I've been done for. 

"I need to be better than that. I know that the stump mics are on and I know it's part of the game. 

"There are lots of kids watching the Australia Test team  - I need to set a better example than that."

Paine's frustration came after a not out decision by on-field umpire Wilson following appeals for a catch at short leg, with the call not being overturned following the use of the DRS.

Addressing the incident again later in his media duties, he said: "I think we do want to take the game as close to the fans and spectators as we can. At times, when the stump mics are on, that's going to happen. 

"We try our best but we are not perfect. If the worst thing we have done is let the odd f-bomb go, then I think we're doing okay."

Australia and India now move on to Brisbane for the series decider, with the fourth Test going ahead after the Board of Control for Cricket in India received assurances over quarantine restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Paine admitted he let Australia's bowlers down with three dropped catches as India ground out an unlikely draw in the third Test at the SCG.

India resumed day five on 98-2 with a victory target of 407 and they appeared to be sliding towards defeat when Nathan Lyon dismissed captain Ajinkya Rahane for four.

However, Rishabh Pant gave the tourists hope of pulling off the upset with a phenomenal knock despite dealing with an elbow injury, benefiting from being put down by Paine off Lyon on three and 56.

Lyon removed Pant three runs shy of his century and after Cheteshwar Pujara (77) fell to Josh Hazlewood, heroic defence from Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128) after the former tweaked his hamstring saw India over the line.

Paine also spilled Vihari on 15 late in the final session when he dived to his right, with India sitting at 334-5 at stumps to keep the series level at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test at the Gabba, which begins on Friday.

"I'm bitterly disappointed, I pride myself on my wicketkeeping," said Australia captain Paine.

"I haven't had too many worse days than that today, it's a horrible feeling knowing our fast bowlers and our spinner bowled their hearts out and gave everything to the team.

"I certainly feel I let them down. I have to wear that, but I'll get another crack at it next week so move on.

"We created enough chances to win. I wouldn't say it's deflating, I thought there was a lot of positives out of the game and it was an awesome game of Test cricket.

"India fought bloody hard like we knew they would, clearly we are disappointed not to get a win but thought there were some good signs for us after the Melbourne Test."

Rahane praised Pant for boosting India on a daunting final day and the India skipper is confident the wicketkeeper-batsman will be fit for the fourth Test.

"Yeah, credit to him [Pant]. I mean, we made the strategy, but in the end it's all about that player showing the character," Rahane said.

"It was all about a left-hand-right-hand combination in the middle that worked out really well for us. Credit to him, the way he batted, attacking innings, backed himself really well.

"Rishabh is all right. Injuries, I think, we cannot control. We are just focusing on the Brisbane Test match. [Ravindra] Jadeja, the physios are going to take the call, but apart from that, we have to see how Vihari is feeling. Looking forward to Brisbane now."

India held firm to deny Australia and secure an incredible draw in the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australia looked in position to take a 2-1 series lead, needing eight wickets on the final day at the SCG, but were left frustrated by a stubborn India batting line-up and costly dropped catches.

Rishabh Pant (97), Cheteshwar Pujara (77), Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128 balls) helped ensure India were level heading into the final Test in Brisbane starting on Friday.

The SCG pitch played few tricks on day five, and Pant even had India dreaming of an amazing win, the tourists eventually finishing at 334-5, 73 runs adrift of a victory they stopped chasing after Vihari hurt his hamstring.

Josh Hazlewood (2-39) and Nathan Lyon (2-114) made breakthroughs, but Australia were unable to do enough in a Test they looked destined to win as Tim Paine dropped three catches.

Australia landed an early blow as Lyon had Ajinkya Rahane (4) caught at short leg by Matthew Wade.

But Pant – who suffered an elbow injury on Saturday – was put down twice by Paine, on three and 56, off Lyon, and he counter-attacked superbly to put the pressure on the off-spinner.

Pujara brought up 6,000 Test runs, the 11th Indian to achieve the feat as he continued to frustrate Australia.

Pant looked capable of leading India to a shock victory before falling just short of a third Test century, caught by Pat Cummins at gully after trying to attack Lyon again.

The second new ball brought a key wicket for Australia as Hazlewood produced a wonderful delivery to bowl Pujara.

 

A pair of reviews were unable to get Ashwin, who was dropped on 15, a diving Sean Abbott – on for the injured Will Pucovski (shoulder) – unable to hold onto a tough chance.

Vihari and Ashwin, showing no intent to score, remained stoic and defended well against an increasingly desperate Australia.

Paine dropped another chance after Vihari edged a Mitchell Starc (0-66) delivery and it proved to be the final opportunity as India held on for a draw.

The fourth Test between Australia and India is set to go ahead at the Gabba as scheduled, the hosts have confirmed.

Questions were raised over the location of the Test amid reports players would be forced into a hard quarantine and after Brisbane went into a three-day lockdown.

But with restrictions easing, the Test is set to go ahead as planned, beginning on Friday.

Cricket Australia interim chief executive officer Nick Hockley told SEN on Monday: "I had a call last night from the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] secretary, very late last night, and he confirmed that we are good to travel to Brisbane on Tuesday."

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also confirmed the Test was set to be played.

"Fingers crossed, it looks like everything is going ahead," she told a news conference.

"The Gabba will be filled to half the capacity and masks are mandatory for entering and for leaving and moving around the stadium, but if you're sitting there at your seat, you will not need to wear your mask because you are outside.

"If you're going along to the cricket, take your mask, put it on, most people will be coming by public transport anyway where you'll have to wear your mask."

The news came as Australia were attempting to take a 2-1 series lead to Brisbane as they closed in on victory in Sydney.

Virat Kohli called for "strict action" to be taken after India players claimed they were subjected to racial abuse by spectators during the third Test against Australia 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 India team staff also reported alleged racial abuse of Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on Saturday.

Play was halted for 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 captain Kohli, who is back in his homeland as his wife is expecting a baby, said action must be taken as soon as possible.

He tweeted: "Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It's sad to see this happen on the field.

"The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once."

CA head of integrity and security Sean Carroll earlier said in a statement: "Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council's investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our anti-harassment code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed India have experienced abuse on previous tours of Australia.

"This is my fourth tour to Australia and in Sydney, especially, we have had a few experiences even in the past," he said.

"I think one or two times even the players have reacted and got into trouble in the past, and that's not because of the player, it is actually because of the way the crowd has been speaking, especially the people close to the boundary edge.

"They have been quite nasty, they have been hurling abuse as well, but this is the time they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuse.

"There was an official complaint lodged yesterday, and the umpires also mentioned it to us that we must bring it to their notice as soon as it happens, on the field, and then they will be able to take action.

"It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We have seen a lot, right? We have evolved as a society. This must be definitely dealt with an iron fist. And we must make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Australia are strong favourites to take a 2-1 series lead, as India were 98-2 at stumps on the penultimate day after being set 407 to win.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took crucial wickets as Australia’s bowlers closed on victory on day four of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After Hazlewood removed Shubman Gill for 31 runs, Rohit Sharma fell to Cummins for 52 as an embattled India closed on 98-2, needing 309 more runs for an unlikely win.

Australia had declared on 312-6 after Cameron Green showcased some huge hitting in the afternoon session, surging to 84 off 183 balls, including eight fours and four sixes to set up a tense final session for India.

It was a day of Test cricket once again marred by a crowd incident with play delayed for eight minutes before the tea break while six people were ejected by New South Wales police after India's Mohammed Siraj issued a complaint of alleged abuse to the umpires.

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