Australia v West Indies
Third Test – Sydney
Starts Sunday, 3 January 10:30
Australia will be aiming for a clean-sweep when they take on the West Indies in the third and final test at the SCG starting on Sunday.
The Aussies wrapped up a hard-fought but comprehensive 177-run victory in Melbourne on Tuesday to secure the series against a much-improved Caribbean outfit. The victory was again set up by a monstrous first innings total of 3/551 with David Warner the only batsman in the top five unable to reach triple figures. The bowling was more of a collective effort, highlighted by seven wickets to man of the match Nathan Lyon, while Mitchell Marsh chipped in with four important second innings scalps. An ankle injury has put Peter Siddle in grave doubt with spinner Steve O’Keefe reported to be in the frame to replace him, meaning that Scott Boland will remain on drink-carrying duties.
Although they still lost the test comfortably there were a series of small victories for the Windies in Melbourne, with the match stretching well into a fourth day off the back of some more obdurate efforts with the bat. They also managed to make some long-awaited breakthroughs with the new ball in the second innings, dismissing both Australian openers cheaply for the first time in the series. One bowler who did struggle, however, was young spinner Jomel Warrican who will likely be swapped out for leggie Devendra Bishoo.
Last year’s draw between Australia and India broke a series of 11 consecutive results at the SCG, seven of which failed to reach a fifth day. The most recent Sheffield Shield fixture there this season also produced a result early on the fourth day, after the first game of the season was abandoned due to a combination of wet weather and an unsafe outfield. The weather is expected to play a big part in this match with significant periods of rain forecast throughout.
Looking at the weather forecast in more detail the chances of rain are particularly high in the first three days which suggests that that’s when the majority of time may be lost. The volatile forecast coupled with a more gutsy effort from the Windies in Melbourne provides us with enough faith to be backing the draw at 5.40, however given the high proportion of results in Sydney and the dominance of Australia in the series so far I will be looking to lay off if the draw gets to 3.00 or shorter.