Ahmedabad: High on confidence after thrashing England in the second Test in Chennai, the Virat Kohli-led Indian team will look to keep the winning momentum going when they take the field in the pink-ball Test, starting Wednesday. A win will take them one step closer to a spot in the final of the maiden World Test Championship.
India had defeated England by 317 runs in the second Test and now both teams are getting ready to battle it out in the day-night Test at the newly-built Motera Stadium. The pink-ball Test has traditionally offered a lot of assistance to the seamers, but this upcoming match at the Motera Stadium maybe a different ball game as Rohit Sharma on Sunday suggested that critics shouldn't pull the BCCI up for preparing spin-friendly wickets.
India went in with three spinners in the second Test -- Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel -- but it is safe to say the side will look at going in with two spinners and Kuldeep may face the axe.
Umesh Yadav had passed his fitness Test on Sunday and as a result, he has been added to the hosts' squad. The returning pacer may be given a go straight away along with Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma. But Mohammed Siraj will also look to give Umesh tough competition for a place in the XI.
India's last pink-ball game was a story to forget as the side was bundled out for 36 in the second innings against Australia in Adelaide. But looking at the recent history, one can say past performances do not play on the mind of this Indian team.
India had played it's first pink-ball game against Bangladesh in 2019 at the Eden Gardens and in that contest, the pacers unleashed a short-ball barrage at the Bangladesh side and it is to be seen whether the same tactic is employed against England as well. But Mohammad Shami had played an integral part in that game and his presence will be missed as the pacer knows a thing or two about making the pink SG ball talk.
On the other hand, England has problems of plenty as their rotation policy continues to baffle the fans and experts. James Anderson, who was rested for the second Test, is set to play at Motera while Jofra Archer is also most likely to get the green from the team management. Whether the visitors decide to give Stuart Broad another go in this series, is a big debating point.
Zak Crawley had missed the first two Tests against India after slipping in the dressing room while Jonny Bairstow was rested for the first two Tests. The latter is set to come into the team as Dan Lawrence has no big scores to his name in this series. Whether the visitors give Crawley a chance in place of Dom Sibley or Rory Burns, it is left to be seen.
England's assistant coach Graham Thorpe has already talked about the challenges of playing in a new stadium and he opined that the shiny and coloured seats may make the job of the fielders a little bit difficult in the third Test.
Teams have to adjust to the pitch, but looks like, both India and England need to acclimatise with the lights and seating at the Motera as well. The newly built Motera can seat upto 1,10,000 people, but due to Covid-19, only 50 per cent crowd would be allowed. But as Jofra Archer said on Monday, even a half-filled Motera will be equivalent to having a full capacity in most of the cricket stadiums.
India needs to win the ongoing series by at least a margin of 2-1 to make the finals of the WTC, but if the side loses another game, Kohli and boys are out of the WTC contention. On the other hand, England has to win both the remaining matches to qualify for the WTC finals and if the series ends in a 1-1 or 2-2 draw, then Australia would make the finals of the WTC.
Even if England wins the series 2-1, Australia would still make the finals of the WTC.
SQUAD: India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav.
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.