Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney January 1, 2008

A happy venue for the batsmen

Stats preview of the second Test between India and Australia in Sydney
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Sachin Tendulkar: an average of 249 in three Tests in Sydney © Getty Images
 
After being demolished in the first Test in Melbourne, the Indians will be relieved that the venue for the second Test is the Sydney Cricket Ground, a stadium that has pleasant memories for most of their players.

The team results here have been better than at any other Australian venue - one win and three defeats in eight Tests. The last time India played at this ground, they had the home team in all sorts of bother till a battling Steve Waugh and Simon Katich bailed them out. Rahul Dravid, in the middle of a batting rut at the moment, will do well to watch tapes of his batting in that game: with India looking for quick runs in the second innings, Dravid hammered an unbeaten 91 off 114 balls. In the same number of deliveries in the Melbourne Test last week, Dravid managed a mere 16.

Most of the other Indian heavyweights have done well here too. Sachin Tendulkar leads the pack: in five innings at the ground, he has scored two centuries - including that unbeaten 241 on his previous trip - and averages 249. VVS Laxman isn't far behind, with two centuries in his two Tests here. The only failure has been Sourav Ganguly, who averages just 14 here. The kind of form he is in, though, he won't be too bothered by his track record in Sydney.

Indian batsmen in Sydney
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 3 498 249.00 2/ 1
VVS Laxman 2 352 117.33 2/ 0
Virender Sehwag 1 119 59.50 0/ 1
Rahul Dravid 2 158 52.67 0/ 1
Sourav Ganguly 2 42 14.00 0/ 0

The performance of the Indian batsmen is only one side of the story, however. The other side is the fact that the Australians have relished the conditions here as well. Their overall record here is an impressive 51 wins and 27 defeats, but their recent form is scary: in their last 13 Tests they have won 11, with their only loss - to England in 2002-03 - coming after they had already sealed the five-Test series by winning the first four games. The only other team to escape a defeat during this period is India, which drew in 2003-04.

The Australian batsmen have enjoyed the pitch here as much as the Indians. Ricky Ponting has scored 1226 runs in 12 Tests at an average of more than 81, while Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden have been among the runs as well. Michael Clarke hasn't flourished on his home ground, though, with just 90 runs in four innings.

Australian batsmen in Sydney
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Ricky Ponting 12 1226 81.73 5/ 4
Adam Gilchrist 10 722 60.16 2/ 4
Matthew Hayden 9 756 54.00 3/ 3
Michael Hussey 2 82 41.00 0/ 0
Andrew Symonds 2 60 30.00 0/ 0
Michael Clarke 3 90 22.50 0/ 0

Sydney has traditionally been a spin-friendly venue, but the table below indicates that spinners haven't had a lot more success than the fast bowlers in recent years. Since 2000, slow bowlers average 38.55 per wicket, which is only marginally better than what the fast bowlers have achieved during this period.

Pace v spin at the SCG since 2000
Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Pace 171 39.15 66.6 3/ 2
Spin 118 38.55 68.0 7/ 1

The last time he played here, Anil Kumble had plenty of success, with match figures of 12 for 279, but his overall average here is only 33.75, thanks to his wicketless performance in 1999-2000. It isn't the favourite venue for Australia's leading bowler either: Brett Lee has only managed 31 wickets from eight games at an average of more than 35.

In the last 17 Tests here, the captain winning the toss has chosen to bat. The last team to insert the opposition was India, way back in 1992. The Indians didn't do badly then, taking a first-innings lead of 170 and forcing Australia to hang on to a draw.

Teams have generally jumped at the opportunity to bat first, but as the table below shows, batting in the fourth innings hasn't been such a tough task recently.

Average runs per wicket in each innings in Sydney Tests since 2000
1st innings 2nd innings 3rd innings 4th innings
38.97 41.13 33.24 44.79

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo