Ravi Shastri
India's coach Ravi Shastri Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Team India’s head coach Ravi Shastri wants his boys to go for the kill in the final Test, which starts in Sydney on Thursday. There is talk about the Sydney pitch being spin-friendly again and can help the Indian team record a historic series win over Australia.

Speaking to Gulf News from Sydney, Shastri said: “You can never predict a wicket. It is traditionally a spinners’ wicket, but cannot say ... it can just be the opposite. We will see tomorrow.”

Preparations are on to ensure that India’s spin attack is ready in full force. Ravichandran Ashwin is ready to return to the side as he has recovered from the side strain that kept him out from the Melbourne Test. The team management is in a dilemma as spinner Ravindra Jadeja too had produced a strong performance in Melbourne and hence, it is also not clear whether India will drop a seam bowler to play a pair of spinners.

Mayank Agarwal (L) walks off with coach Ravi Shastri
India's Mayank Agarwal (L) walks off with coach Ravi Shastri (R) after victory on the final day of the third cricket Test match between Australia and India in Melbourne on December 30, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

There is also speculation on whether India may try out left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who had made his Test debut against Australia in Dharmasala in 2017 and had bagged 19 wickets in the five-Test series in India. There is also the question of who will replace Rohit Sharma, who has flown to Mumbai as his wife has delivered a baby girl.

Shastri, who believes in his players enjoying the game, does not want his players to be bogged down by the enormity of the situation. A victory in Sydney can ensure India their first-ever series win over Australia Down Under.

When queried whether the pressure of expectation will be too high on the boys, Shastri said: “The boys were great in Melbourne. They will have to be even more focused in Sydney.”

Shastri is happy with bowling coach Bharat Arun, who has shaped his bowlers very well. Soon after the Melbourne Test victory itself, he had thanked Arun for preparing the bowlers, especially the pacers that led to India’s first-ever Boxing Day Test win and also their first victory in Melbourne since 1981.

Shastri is happy that many feats have been achieved by the team already such as retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Australian soil by recording an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-Test series. “Excellent job guys. Full marks to B Arun for the work done with our bowlers,” tweeted Shastri immediately after the Melbourne win.

For Australia, a win in Sydney can boost their morale not only because this is the first Test match of the year, but also preventing a series defeat in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner can carry them a long way. It is not only the World Cup that is round the corner for them, but also the Ashes campaign.

Australians would also want one of their batsmen to score a century because it is for the first time since 1991-92 that an Australian batsman hasn’t scored a century in a home Test series whereas Indians have posted three centuries.