Australia recovery faces India, Tendulkar Test


The green shoots of Australian recovery will be exposed to the full glare of India’s determination to level the series in the 100th test match to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground starting on Tuesday. Fired by a display of aggressive fast bowling, Australia rebounded from a first home defeat to New Zealand in 26 years to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series with an ultimately convincing 122-run victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last week. While the hosts will be looking for more of the same on a wicket with a tinge of green to it, India will be out to stop a the rot of a run of five successive overseas test defeats going back to their 4-0 drubbing in England last year. Crucial to their success will be an improved performance from their much-vaunted batting line-up – particularly the openers – and a century from Sachin Tendulkar would be welcome in more ways than one.
The 38-year-old has been stuck on 99 international hundreds for 10 months and will fancy his chances of finally reaching the milestone at a ground where he has plundered runs at an average of more than 221 per innings in the past. Pace bowling great Glenn McGrath will once again be hoping for the ground to be turned into a sea of pink on the third day of the test for his McGrath Foundation charity, which raises money for breast cancer nurses in Australia. The 41-year-old, who took 563 test wickets, is notorious for his predictions of series whitewashes for Australia and the form of quicks James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus had him at it again on Monday. “I think a team really builds itself around a bowling attack and you look at the bowling attack the team has at the moment and that will give the rest of the guys a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’m very confident, as confident as I’ve been in years, that this team is something special and expecting big things from them too.” Australia go into the match unchanged from Melbourne, with spinner Nathan Lyon preferred to a fourth pace option in Ryan Harris. India, who look likely to drop number six batsman Virat Kohli and hand Rohit Sharma his test debut, have always enjoyed playing on the traditionally spin-friendly SCG wickets but have only won once in nine previous matches at the ground. Four of the other contests have been drawn and, despite the 40 wickets that tumbled over four dramatic days in Melbourne, another stalemate to leave the series nicely poised going into the third test in Perth would be no great surprise. All concerned are convinced that it will be played in a better spirit than the spiteful 2008 encounter at the ground, when Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds.