Rain saves Australia in New Year’s Test as India claim the series

Rain saves Australia in New Year’s Test as India claim the series
Pat Cummins is one of the few Australians to enhance his reputation this series. Photo: David Molloy Photography, Wikimedia Commons

The final day of the Sydney Test has been completely washed out to see the match declared a draw with only two innings completed. After declaring at 7/622 batting first, India bowled Australia for 300 yesterday afternoon and enforced the follow on. Rain intervened and prevented Australia from launching a comeback attempt, with only 25 overs (out of a potential 90) played yesterday and today washed out completely.

A spirited rear-guard from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood took up most of yesterday’s play, with Australia’s second innings only going for four overs yesterday (with Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris putting on 4 and 2 respectively). The rain meant that there was no result for the test, leaving India to win the series 2-1.

Over the series Australia have been their own worst enemies, with all batsmen guilty of throwing away solid starts with reckless shots. This has in turn increased the pressure and workload on the bowlers, and they have gotten less effective as the series progressed (with the exception of a Pat Cummins clinic in the second innings in Melbourne).

After a close win first up in Adelaide India were humiliated in the second in Perth, before biting back in Melbourne. Sydney looked like being another demolition job by India before the weather intervened, and the home team have a lot of work to do before Sri Lanka arrives later in the summer.

Australia’s selectors haven’t helped either, with only Khawaja and Shaun Marsh in the best 6 available batsmen based on Sheffield Shield averages – and Marsh is in 6th. Discounting the suspended Steve Smith and David Warner, the best six Australian batsmen are Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Lynn, Matthew Wade, Joe Burns and Shaun Marsh.

Travis Head and Marcus Harris both have deceptively low averages due to being thrown into first class cricket very early, and forced their way into the side on the strength of Shield runs in the last two or three years. However, Peter Handscomb, Marnus Labuschagne, Aaron Finch and Mitch Marsh have all been used in the series as well, with only Handscomb even in the best 20 Australian batsmen.

Labuschagne, who was picked in the Sydney test on the basis that he is a spinning all-rounder, averages more than 10 runs less than Maxwell – who is a better spin bowler as well. Finch opened the batting due to his opening ability in one-day cricket, despite not opening in the Shield and Joe Burns, who opens for Queensland and averages 12 runs more, being available.

The Australian selectors will need to go back to the beginning for the tests against Sri Lanka.

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