Third Test Match

Australia v India, 1999-2000

At Sydney, January 2, 3, 4. Australia won by an innings and 141 runs. Toss: India.

At the instigation of Steve Waugh, the Australians marked their first Test of the new century with a one-off appearance in caps of the style and shade of green worn in 1900. Having made this concession to history, they got down to business as remorselessly as ever, winning in three days to complete their second clean sweep of the summer and extend their run of Test victories to seven. India, their morale in tatters, were ready victims.

Australia remained unchanged. They had called up Colin Miller to provide spin option but, with the pitch firm and grassy, did not include him. As for India, Ramesh's Melbourne injury ruled him out and, in another makeshift arrangement, they promoted wicket-keeper Mannava Prasad to open the batting with Laxman. The vacant place went to Bharadwaj, who had made his debut against New Zealand three months earlier.

Although rain before the start produced conditions choice for pace bowlers, Tendulkar opted to bat first - and duly came to grief. McGrath and Lee went through India in 68 overs, all except Tendulkar looking hopelessly out of their depth. For the fourth time in succession, Agarkar was dismissed first ball - unprecedented in Tests, and another unwelcome record was in store for him. Tendulkar batted with greater abandon than at Adelaide and Melbourne, hitting eight fours in 45 from 53 balls. His dismissal was the climax of a rousing duel with McGrath, who, having been hooked, pulled and driven earlier in the over, sent Tendulkar on his way with an ill-tempered verbal assault. Yet it brought him no more than a mild censure from referee Madugalle, a distinct contrast to the punishment imposed on Venkatesh Prasad in the previous Test.

The pitch rolled out true on the sunny second day, but India had Australia 49 for two, and a further setback looked imminent as Langer struggled. He hung on, though, found his fluency after reaching 50 and prospered to compile the highest score by an Australian against India.

His 223 was spread over eight hours 43 minutes, in which he faced 355 balls and hit 30 fours. The Waugh twins - Mark was playing his 100th Test - helped Langer put on 218 and then Ponting, in irresistible form, joined him to add another 190. When Langer finally lifted Tendulkar's off-spin to mid-on, Ponting and Gilchrist savaged the limp attack for another 18 overs until the declaration. Ponting's unbeaten 141 included 17 fours and a six. Any significant Indian reply was snuffed out when Tendulkar, off the fourth ball he faced, ladled a catch to cover. McGrath methodically unpicked the innings, taking five wickets for the second time in the match. His last was that of poor Agarkar, this time out second ball without scoring to equal the unenviable record of five successive ducks in Test innings. Australia's Bob Holland made two against England in 1985 and three against New Zealand in 1985-86, including consecutive pairs. India's honour was saved by a quite remarkable 167 off 198 balls by Laxman, who at the start of his innings had taken a staggering blow on the visor of his helmet. Tall and elegant, he drove with classic grace to all points between cover and mid-wicket and was just as assertive against anything short, cutting and pulling with power. Ganguly kept him company for 17 overs, but his only other ally was Kumble, who doggedly defended against 45 deliveries while Laxman went from 88 to 158 in 19 overs.

Man of the Match: G. D. McGrath. Attendance: 106,637. Man of the Series: S. R. Tendulkar.

© John Wisden & Co