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Warner, Rohit Return To The Test Squad As India Takes On Australia In The Third Test

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The last time when India played a Test at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), they scored 622 runs batting first. The last time when Australia played a test at SCG, they smashed 454 runs batting first. However, this time, with the series at stake, it will be really interesting to see how things roll out in Sydney. India and Australia are ready to play the pink test at the SCG amid all the out-field controversies.

Toss And Pitch Behaviour

SCG is often considered a batting-friendly wicket. SCG does not offer great pace and bounce like Gabba, Brisbane; but it will be handy for spinners after day 3 or so. All three spinners (Ashwin, Jadeja and Lyon) will have a huge role to play in this match.

It is a no-brainer. Both captains will look to bat first after winning the toss. Sydney wicket has always been top-notch for batting. In fact, all captains have considered batting first after winning the toss in the last five test matches played at SCG. The average score in the first innings at SCG is 317 and 313 for second innings. Out of 108 test matches played at SCG, 47 of them have won batting first. So, the toss will be an important factor in tomorrow’s match. Win the toss, and bat first.

Australian Team News

Will Pucovski is likely to receive his baggy green. A Will Pucovski debut means Matthew Wade would probably be batting after Smith, leaving no place for Travis Head in the playing XI. Although, David Warner is not a 100% fit, he will participate in the third test. He played some convincing shots in the nets ahead of the third test. Warner is in a red-hot form currently and Indian bowlers will have to work hard to get him out.

David Warner in his last five tests (both innings combined): 156 vs NZ, 79 vs NZ, 62 vs NZ, 335 vs PAK, 154 vs PAK.

‘The Lyon Factor’

“Come on, Gary!” We might hear a few of these in the third test match. Nathan Lyon’s form is a big concern for Australia. Indian batsmen have figured a way to approach him as Lyon has picked only four wickets in two tests in the current Border-Gavaskar Trophy. However, we see a different Lyon when the match is played at SCG. Nathan Lyon has taken 36 wickets in his 16 innings including two five-wicket hauls at SCG. Lyon bowls at an economy rate of 3.04 at SCG with a fine average of 37.6.

Nathan Lyon has dismissed Rohit Sharma five times in his Test career. Rohit’s strike rate falls to 55.08 when he faces Lyon. On the other side, Lyon has dismissed Pujara 10 times in his career. Lyon will look to get back in form in the third test and it will be quite interesting to see how Indian batsmen play against him.

Indian Team News

The Indian team has already announced their playing XI. Rohit Sharma will return to the squad for the last two tests. Rohit will open the innings along with Shubman Gill, who played some terrific shots in his first test. The inclusion of Rohit as an opener means Mayank Agarwal will have to find his way out. Navdeep Saini is all set to make his Test debut as he will replace injured Umesh Yadav. KL has been ruled out of the remaining test series due to an injury in his left wrist. This means Hanuma Vihari will still play at number five.

India’s playing XI: Rohit Sharma (VC), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini.

The Debate Over Squad Selection

While some fans wanted Natarajan to make his debut, some wanted Mayank to play the third test. The balderdash debate on Twitter continues…

In 2018, India was in desperate need of a consistent test opener. Murali Vijay’s poor run gave Mayank Agarwal a chance. Agarwal made his debut at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Since then, he has scored most for India in tests. In 2018, he scored 118 runs in his two innings while playing in Australia. In 2019, he scored 754 runs including two half-centuries and three centuries. In the same year, Agarwal also recorded his highest test score 243 against Bangladesh.

However, 2020 was not one of the great years for him. His average was only 16.6 in 2020. He only scored 133 runs in his eight innings with one half-century in 2020. His weakness was exploited by the Aussie quicks.

Mayank Agarwal in his last five tests (Both innings combined): 5 vs AUS, 26 vs AUS, 10 vs NZ, 92 vs NZ, 0 VS NZ-A.

On the other hand, Rohit Sharma had a fantastic home season before coming into this tour and Shubman Gill looked promising in his first test. Rohit has opened five test matches for India. This will be the first time he will open for India on an overseas tour. Sharma has scored 556 runs (three centuries) in tests with an average of 92.66 as an opener. The current form speaks for itself.

Clearly, Agarwal is dropped based on his current form. I do not see a reason to debate upon that. If India needs to win the test series, they need a solid opening partnership. That is where India was struggling. Due to Agarwal’s poor run, they were not able to get those big opening partnerships. Both, Sharma and Gill are in great touch. Hopefully, they will put up a good opening partnership. Maybe, it is time for Agarwal to work upon his weakness. He was an integral part of this team and hopefully, he will make a strong comeback.

On the other hand, it is too early for Natarajan to make his test debut. Natarajan is yet to prove himself in white-ball format. He has only played one ODI and three T20Is. He was not even named in the original test squad. I believe that he has to first become consistent in the shorter formats. Saini is yet to prove himself in Test cricket and I believe this is the right time to test him in red-ball cricket. Saini is definitely a better red-ball bowler than Natarajan as of now and I think India made a good choice by picking him.

The third test is undoubtedly the most important test in this series. If India wins the test, they will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. If Australia wins it, they will go 2-1 up in the series. Who knows, it could also be a draw. The race to the World Test Championship is still on and India will have to win at least one out of their two matches left in the series to remain in the lead and to qualify for the World Test Championship final at Lord’s.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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