India go into the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia embarking on a new era after the shock retirement of talismanic captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
It will be testing times for the new and fiery skipper Virat Kohli following Dhoni’s retirement from the longest format of the game after the third Test at Melbourne.
Kohli will hope to learn from Dhoni’s calm demeanour but this sentiment will surely be questioned on the field by Australia, who have already bagged the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Though India have lost the series 0-2, they have been competitive throughout, giving a tough fight to the home side.
Despite a couple of failures, India’s batting has largely clicked and there is no reason why Kohli and his men will not rise to the occasion on a batsman-friendly pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Kohli has been in prime form in the three Tests so far, hitting 499 runs at a staggering average of 83.16 which includes three explosive centuries.
Opener Murali Vijay has provided stability at the top when his partner Shikhar Dhawan has failed while middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has also impressed.
India’s most successful bowler of the series Varun Aaron is back after attending his grandfather’s funeral and is likely to be included in the playing XI as wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha will take over from Dhoni to play his fourth Test and his first as the main choice ‘keeper.
Meanwhile, there is only one change in the Australian squad from Melbourne. In a relief for the Indian batsman, left-handed pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson is out of the SCG Test with hamstring soreness and will be replaced by Mitchell Starc.
Though stand-in skipper Steven Smith has said that his team will try to play in a relaxed manner as they have already won the series, an aggressive Kohli is unlikely to back down from the heated exchanges that have taken place so far.
The match will also see a return to the ground where the late Phillip Hughes was hit by a bouncer on his head Nov 25 that led to his tragic demise two days later.
There was an outpour of emotion for Hughes at the start of the first Test in Adelaide and a similar situation is expected.