Ed Hawkins previews the final game of the series in Sydney from Sunday night and he expects Steve Smith's team to complete a 3-0 series win...
"The wicket is fruity enough to keep Australia’s pacers interested – and it is the fast men who have dominated in the last few years"
Back Australia @ 1.794/5
Australia v India
Monday January 5, 23.30GMT
TV: live on Sky Sports
Australia have a doubt over fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who is struggling with sore hamstrings. Johnson did not travel with the rest of the team to the SCG for their first net session and it would be a surprise if he played considering the series is won and a World Cup is imminent.
The hosts have plenty of cover. Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle stand by and the former could well get the nod because it would be more of a like-for-like swap.
Ashton Agar, the spinner, has been added to the squad as Australia contemplate picking two twirlers. Agar impressed with the bat, not the ball, in the Ashes series two years ago and his pick is certainly left-field. He has taken only seven wickets in Shield cricket this term at 45.
A new era begins for India following the retirement of MS Dhoni. They are unlikely to miss his captaincy on foreign trips considering his appalling record. Virat Kohli is his replacement.
There will be other changes. India could be mulling over the use of five bowlers, especially as four have got them nowhere. If the pitch looks likely to take spin they could pick three pacers and two spinners from the three (Ravi Ashwin, Karn Sharma and Akshar Patel) in the squad. Wriddhiman Saha is expected to keep wicket although Naman Ojha, another gloveman, is also in the squad.
The first-innings average in the last ten first-innings at the SCG is 321. In that time, there have been only three scores of 350 or more. Indeed, there have been some low totals. In 2012 India were bowled out for 191 and Australia were skittled for 127 against Pakistan two years previously.
The New Year Test at the SCG is slightly later than scheduled because of the death of Phil Hughes on this ground in November and it is likely to be an emotional occasion for the home side.
It is also, in the context of the series, meaningless with Australia enjoying an unassailable 2-0 lead. Australia's record in dead rubbers in won series, however, is pretty good with four wins and one draw. India, with the series lost away from home, have lost their last two in the last 10 years.
Australia are 1.794/5, India 5.24/1 and the draw is 3.953/1 (no stalemates in last ten). It is fair to consider the hosts value as they were as short as 1.645/8 to win in Melbourne. They didn't win there, of course, and that has spooked the market a little particularly as it was largely down to negative captaincy from Steve Smith.
But we will keep faith in them and Smith. The wicket is fruity enough to keep Australia's pacers interested - and it is the fast men who have dominated in the last few years. There should be turn in the fourth innings which gives India a sniff but we would only consider them if they were batting first.
India were beaten by an innings at the SCG in 2012 and they have shown little aptitude for the battle on the tour and they could now well have one eye on the forthcoming World Cup. There is some rain around but it doesn't look heavy, or consistent, enough to lose a chunk of overs.
There were centuries for Smith and Chris Rogers at the SCG last year against England. Smith, who has three tons in the series, is 4.03/1 and Rogers 5.79/2. David Warner is 4.3100/30, Shane Watson 6.25/1 and Brad Haddin 1211/1.
India's batsmen have not fared too badly. Kohli (499 runs), Murali Vijay (402) and Ajinkya Rahane (348) will be happy with their performances. There seems little point looking beyond that trio - 3.55/2, 4.3100/30 and 5.04/1 respectively - but Ravi Ashwin did manage a half-century at the SCG three years ago. He will be big numbers.
Back Australia @ 1.794/5
Ed Hawkins P/L
2014: +325.10 (ROI 28.5%)
2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)
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