- Ben Stokes’ side take on India in Rajkot, with the Test series level at 1-1
- One of England’s top six has to score a hundred in the third Test
- England need to come up with a plan to stop leading run-scorer Yashasvi Jaiswa
If you look back at the first two Tests of this series, it has been a case of win the toss, win the game. However, if the Rajkot pitch plays like it has in its previous two outings as a Test venue, it won’t be as important this week.
Look again at the 2016-17 scorecard: England 537 play India 488. Two years later, the Indians piled up 649 for nine declared against the West Indies.
Recent history tells you it’s as flat as a pancake. Which reminds me, today is one of the big days of the year, and the best filling for yours is lemon and syrup. Without a doubt, it is the number one option in Lloyd Towers.
Some people will tell you lemon and sugar or syrup. Trust me on this one though, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Tonight I will try to beat my previous best of 19.
Such ridiculously high totals in Rajkot suggest there is little difference between batting first or second, and on old money this would be a long, drawn-out match.
Ben Stokes’ England are expected to continue their aggressive approach in the third Test in Rajkot.
However, of course, there has been a change of mentality in England and we all know that this Ben Stokes-led team is going to be aggressive. It seems to be a place where you can really get a good fix.
The whole of India has been digesting the news that Virat Kohli will not play any role in the series, but I don’t think that will weaken them too much, even if he is one of the best players we have ever seen.
Shubman Gill stepped up in the second Test and the Indian batsmen are very capable of scoring massive scores. England have had the most trouble so far with Yashasvi Jaiswal and therefore their challenge is to try and come up with a plan to dismiss the series’ leading run-scorer.
As Jos Buttler’s opening partner at Rajasthan Royals, we’ve seen that he would be a perfect fit for Bazball and he holds the record for the fastest 50 balls in the Indian Premier League – off just 13 balls.
Jaiswal is a brave player, but he has no obvious weakness, so I would be thinking a little outside the box and, rather than bowling the left-arm spinner with the new ball, I would be tempted to persevere with the off. -spinner, placing temptation deep.
I’d like to see England play to Jaiswal’s ego a bit more.
Yes, you need to keep your catchers close to the bat in subcontinental conditions, but you also need one or two defenders floating in strategic positions where you like to hit the ball.
England need to come up with a plan to stop the series’ leading run-scorer Yashasvi Jaiswa.
Offer him a carrot by fielding a deep midwicket and a deep midwicket, but two-thirds instead of going back to the boundary. Remember the trap Stokes laid for Shreyas Iyer in the second Test, when the England captain ran towards the rope to take a very good overhand catch.
As for your own game? Well, one of England’s top six has to get a hundred. If that happens, the team will get 400. Scores of 250 to 270 are not good. Forget the feel-good ’50s and cameos of the ’20s and ’30s.
Remember, bowlers, including rookie spinners, have taken 10 wickets four out of four times. These are players who take the field with L plates on their backs. This week in Rajkot, it is the batsmen who must stand the test.
TV: India v England, Thursday at 4am, LIVE on TNT Sports 1.