The newly-built Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera which has a record-high capacity of 110,000 will host seven internationals on the trot starting with the third Test between India and England. The awe and grandeur of this sprawling venue should take nothing away from this exciting series that is locked at 1-1 ahead of this day-night Test.
After falling to just their second home loss in 36 Tests (W28, D6, L2) during the first Test, India bounced back with a resounding 317-run win at the same venue. Local boy Ravichandran Ashwin scored a second-innings century and took eight wickets in the match to stamp his authority. Incidentally, this was just the fourth instance of a team winning the second Test of a series by a 200+ margin.
England’s rotation policy perhaps hindered them in the second Test, but the talismanic James Anderson should return to boost their chances of a revival. The swing bowler has the most Test wickets after turning 30 (343, Avg. 23.45) and four wins in India, the joint-highest such wins for any player since 2000. Together with captain Joe Root, who was England’s man of the match in their previous three consecutive wins, Anderson remains the visitors’ best hope for a quick turnaround.
Interestingly, England doesn’t boast considerable day-night Test experience either (W1, L2) losing their last two to teams down under. Worryingly, England had scores of 227, 233, 58 & 320 over those four innings and aggregated only five 50+ scores – two from captain Root!
India will start this match as massive favourites after convincingly winning the previous Test. Due to the day-night format favouring seam bowlers, England have an outside chance of taking a 2-1 lead as well.
Injury and Availability News
Umesh Yadav has cleared the fitness test and has been added back to the Indian squad for the last two Test matches. Shardul Thakur as been released to make room for Umesh.
Probable Playing XI
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav/Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma.
Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Jack Leach, Jofra Archer, James Anderson.
Joe Root’s performance in the second Test match left a lot to be desired. The England skipper has been in such scintillating form, that he is expected to at least score a half-century. The second Test marked the first time in eight Tests in India that Root hasn’t scored a fifty. Prior to the second Test, Root had registered two double centuries and a century in his last 3 tests in the sub-continent. Given that the pitch in Motera will not offer much spin, Root will be someone who can trouble the scorers.
Ashwin was the main reason why India beat England comfortably in the second Test. Despite poor numbers with the bat in the last few years, Ashwin scored a fabulous century which proved his mettle. On a pitch where batsmen like Root and Pujara failed to leave a mark, local boy Ashwin managed to score a ton. Moreover, the off-spinner picked up eight wickets in the Test including a five-for in the first innings.
Eyebrows were raised regarding Rohit Sharma’s credentials as a Test opener after he failed in the first Test but the Hitman silenced his critics once again. He scored a mind-blowing 161 in the first innings which set India up brilliantly. For most of his innings, he looked in control and was scoring at a swift rate before reaching the nervous 90s. That knock would have done his confidence a world of good.
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