By News Team
23rd February 2021
Plenty has been made about the conditions which saw India level the Test series with England last week. But Joe Root will know that those excuses will mean nothing unless his side can prosper under the lights at Ahmedabad, where conditions should be more suitable to England’s pace attack.
The third Test of the four-match series will be played at India’s new 110,000 capacity stadium with a pink ball and under floodlights. With India 8/15 favourites, attention once more will focus on England’s selection.
Caught in a spin
Arguments were made in the aftermath of the second Test about the suitably of the pitch and whether that was conducive to England’s poor performance. But in truth the old adage that either way, both teams have to bat on it, remains true. India simply outplayed England in the second Test, albeit in conditions they are more comfortable with than the tourists.
What makes the upcoming Test more interesting, however, is that conditions will be unlikely to favour India as much as they did – rather, this should be an opportunity for England’s pace attack to get their teeth stuck into Virat Kohli and his men. The visitors spin attack was not up to scratch in Chennai and with the departure of Moeen Ali from the tour, the selectors will once again be left scratching their heads on what to do in that department in the long-term.
In all likelihood it seems that Dom Bess will return to the side as a like-for-like replacement and team up with Jack Leach. Both players are 11/4 to lead England’s wicket-taking column in the first innings of the Test, however, Jimmy Anderson slightly edges them at 5/2. The floodlights and pink ball in Ahmedabad should work in the 38-year-old’s favour and the experienced seamer can use his frustrations with being left out of the previous Test to fuel his bowling.
Jonny Bairstow is expected to return to the side in this Test and is 4/1 to lead the England charge in the first innings. The model of consistency that is Joe Root’s batting is reflected in his price to be the top English batsmen at 15/8, while he’s a 10/1 chance to do so in an English victory.
His attitude and technique have seen him relish the conditions on the tour so far but unfortunately even he wasn’t able to rescue his side’s chances in the previous Test. Ben Stokes, however, has had a quiet tour by his own standards and it would be no surprise to see him back firing on all cylinders under the lights. The destructive batsmen is 5/6 to score more than 27.5 first innings runs, and if England get off to a good start there could be some fireworks to come from their vice-captain.
Ashwin the man to beat
England will be well aware of the dangers that Ravi Ashwin poses in the remaining two Tests after he took the game away from the visitors in the last Test, dominating with both bat and ball. The English batsmen have found him particularly difficult to deal with and will need to have their game plans to hand from the off. Interestingly Ben Stokes has found Ashwin harder to play than most and has been dismissed by the Indian off spinner more than anyone else in his career. This should conjure up an interesting battle as Stokes, known for his preparation and attention to detail, will want to rectify this issue.
Ashwin is expectedly the favourite among the Indian attack to lead the wicket takers in the first innings as a 7/4 shot, while Jasprit Bumrah is just behind at 9/4. Bumrah’s raw pace and difficult angles will make him difficult to play under the lights and with the pink ball, and Kohli will be hoping his two frontmen can get the job done with the ball. The Indian captain is expected to lead the charge with the bat and is 2/1 to do so. He will feel that he is yet to fully contribute to the series yet and that makes him a dangerous character. For England this is a must win and they will be mindful that conditions in the next Test may not be so friendly, so expect an impassioned performance from Root’s men.