Sydney: Talismanic Australia batsman Steve Smith said Tuesday he would love Sydney to host the new year Test against India as planned, despite the city currently battling a coronavirus outbreak.
"Personally I'd love Sydney to happen, I love playing at the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), it's my home ground," Smith said.
Australia's largest city has been virtually sealed off from the largely virus-free rest of the country after a cluster of coronavirus cases were uncovered, raising serious doubts about the third Test which is scheduled to start on 7 January.
"I think everyone's preference here would be to play in Sydney, but we will always be guided by experts," Smith said.
If the Sydney clash goes ahead, the players could have problems travelling to Brisbane for the final Test a week later after Queensland effectively closed its border to Sydney.
The second Test starts in Melbourne on Boxing Day and back-to-back Tests there could be an option.
Otherwise, they could return to Adelaide, where Australia won the opening Test by eight wickets on Saturday, or host two in a row in Brisbane.
Australia are currently leading the Test series 1-0, after an Indian second-innings batting collapse in Adelaide.
India were bowled out for their record Test low of 36 by Australia's trio of fast bowlers led by Josh Hazlewood, who took five wickets for eight runs, Pat Cummins who grabbed four, backed up by Mitchell Starc.
Smith said that victory rested on one of the best performances he had seen from a group of Australian pace bowlers.
"I played a lot of cricket with all three of those fast bowlers and I reckon the length they bowled consistently was as good as I've seen," he said.
"The lengths they were hitting were just impeccable."
Smith refused to be drawn on whether India, who will now be without Virat Kohli, could bounce back in the second Test beginning on Boxing Day in Melbourne.
"Every individual is different -- the way they take their dismissals, how they think about the game after it's finished," he said.
Smith said playing a Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was always special.
"It's sort of like a dream come true in a way I think, as a kid I always wanted to play in a Boxing Day Test match, I always remember watching the Boxing Day Tests at home with the family after Christmas.
"To walk out on Boxing Day and play, you sort of get the shivers down your spine and the hairs on the back of your neck rise up and it's just a great feeling."
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In the 21st century, there have only been 20 instances of a visiting batsman playing more than 350 balls in a Test in Australia. The only man to have done so thrice is Cheteshwar Pujara. The games in question? Adelaide 2018, Sydney 2019, Sydney 2021 – a series-opening win, a series-clinching draw, and now this. That is impact.
Approximately 9500 people would be allowed to watch the game with the series currently locked at 1-1 following India's remarkable comeback in Melbourne. The SCG has a seating capacity of about 38,000.
Australia will be bolstered by the return of David Warner, while India will hope for Rohit Sharma to provide solid start. With the series locked at 1-1, there's lot to play for in Sydney for both teams.