The New South Wales capital has a sizeable Indian population and the pitch is not that challenging for the Indian batsmen: it’s on the lower and slower side and offers turn.
Still, India have lost five Tests and won just one in 12 attempts at the SCG, that too way back against Bob Simpson’s team, which was weakened by the Packer breakaway.
Of course, the Test on the last tour was a pivotal moment for Indian cricket. Although play was lost due to rain, they sealed India’s first-ever series win in Australia.
India have suffered three humiliating defeats at the SCG. The first of those came against Greg Chappell’s team in 1980-81.
The second came in 1999-2000, which realized the then BCCI secretary’s prediction of India losing 0-3. And the third came in 2011-12 when Oz mounted 659/4 declared with Michael Clarke scoring 329 and Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey getting tons. Four Indian bowlers conceded more than 120-plus runs and Sehwag and Virat Kohli had to bowl more than 30 overs combined.
Current context: Who will bat big for Australia this time? With David Warner back and Smith hungry, India can’t afford to relax.
THE GHOSTS OF MONKEYGATE
Some skewed decisions by the umpires resulted in the Monkeygate scandal. Andrew Symonds was allowed to score a hundred in the first innings after the hosts were reeling at 134-6. India needed to bat for more than 70 overs to save the Test but Dravid and Ganguly were given out wrongly. Captain Kumble famously said, “Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game”.
Opposing captain Ricky Ponting, who claimed a grounded catch, emulated the Steve Waugh-led team’s feat of winning 16 Tests in a row. But history repeated on both counts, like in Kolkata 2001, as India won the next Test in Perth.
Numerous other controversies also plagued the Aussies down the years, like Steve Smith’s ‘brainfade’ while using the DRS and then the ball-tampering scandal in SA.
Current context: When cornered, India are dangerous. But can they continue the good run for the second Test in a row?
THE STORY OF FOLLOW-ONS
India have given Australia follow-ons thrice at SCG. The first came in 1985-86 (captains Kapil Dev and Allan Border). But Australia batted for a combined 255 overs and the game was drawn despite 425 overs of play.
The third instance came in 2018-19. But the one in between (2003-04) was the most interesting. On a batting beauty, India chose to bat on for 187 overs, well into the third day, and still didn’t enforce the follow on. Sourav Ganguly was a smart captain but couldn’t do better than ensuring that India wouldn’t lose.
The delayed declaration (Australia were given the target of 443 runs in about 95 overs) probably denied India their most deserving away series win.
Current context: Who can show control like Tendulkar at the SCG in 2003-04? He didn’t score a single boundary on the off side during his unbeaten 241.
STARS ARE BORN HERE
Ravi Shastri can boast of a double hundred as an opener in Australia (1991-92), but Sachin Tendulkar’s unbeaten 148, his second Test ton and first in Australia, was majestic. India were unlucky in this match because the rain robbed almost 90 overs of play. About 23 years later, the SCG Test saw the transformation of a very good batsman into a modern batting great.
Taking over the captaincy from Michael Clarke in the second Test, Steve Smith hammered 769 runs in a series with hundred in each of the four Tests. It culminated at Sydney with a 117 and 71 in a Man-of-the-Match performance in a drawn Test.
Current context: Will Shubman Gill raise his game to the next level?