The stage is set for the first major international match at the giant motera stadium of Ahmedabad since its renovation , which will have 1.10 lac capacity and what’s more , it will hold the 2nd Pink Ball test on Indian soil after Eden Gardens had the honour of playing host to the first even pink ball test in 2019.
After India’s resounding win at Chennai , the pitch at Ahmedabad is expected to assist spin . However with pink ball being used , there will be swing on offer during the twilight hours into the evening . The weather is expected to be clear on all five days of the test.
India is expected to bring back Jasprit Bumrah who is a certain starter . It remains to be seen who will be the other possibly two pacers . In all probability India will play this pink ball test with 3 pacers and 2 spinners . Umesh Yadav is back in the squad and is strongly favoured to be in the XI after his good show in the last pink ball test in India as is Ishant Sharma who if selected will play his 100th test , a great achievement for a fast bowler. Hence there is a likelihood of Siraj missing out . Also Kuldeep Yadav is likely to be replaced in this test with the 3rd pacer. Rest of the team is likely to be the same as in Chennai.
Hence the probable India XI is likely to be :
Rohit , Gill , Pujara , Kohli , Rahane , Pant , Ashwin , Axar , Umesh , Ishant & Bumrah .
England after winning the 1st test , showed rigidity in continuing or overdoing their rotation policy by resting Anderson for 2nd test , a decision which backfired . Also allowing England’s best player in the 2nd test ( Moeen Ali ) to go home as a part of rotation policy further unsettles the team and its continuity which is so much required to perform well in a high profile series involving a strong opposition . The momentum India gathered after mauling England in 2nd test will be very tough for England to get over now . In order to start well in the 3rd test , England badly needs to win the toss and bat and make wiser choices in their team selection.
With Johny Bairstow back and Zak Crawley fit , both are expected to be in the first XI in place of David Lawrence and Rory Burns . Anderson and Archer are sure to return to bolster the bowling and with Moeen gone , Dom Bess will get another chance to redeem himself . It remains to be seen whether England keeps with Bairstow and replace Foakes with Olly Stone , who was impressive in 2nd test or Chris Woakes to further strengthen the bowling as they need their best bowling attack to square the series.
A big worry for England is the form of Ben Stokes. His bat has kept quiet in this series so far ( except 82 in 1st innings of 1st test) and he has bowled very little raising doubts on his fitness . All the more reason to play a third seamer .
England probable XI : Sibley , Crawley , Bairstow , Root , Stokes , Pope , Foakes/ Stone , Bess , Leach , Archer , Anderson
As Joe Root will go out to toss , the whole of England will be waiting for the XI their team management will pick .
With the final session being played under lights , the possibility of dew cannot be ruled out which can affect the spinners.
England badly needs to win this test to keep their slender hopes of playing in the Test Championships final alive whereas a win for India in this test and a draw in next will allow them to reach the WTC final. A drawn series or England winning 2-1 will help Australia.
India Squad: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar
England Squad: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Daniel Lawrence, Joe Root(c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes(w), Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Dominic Bess, Zak Crawley
**by Amitava Mukherjee