India optimistic about their prospects in Battle of the Swingers with England ahead of the third Test
They will never have a better chance of emulating one of England’s best teams and winning a series in India like Alastair Cook and company did in 2012.
The third Test on Wednesday, with the series level at 1-1 and two more to play, offers Joe Root a tremendous opportunity to take a big step in making history.
Yes, England had been thoroughly played out in the second Test, but that was on a field that was not fit for purpose.
Jofra Archer is trained in England this week at the Sardar Patel Stadium
Ben Stokes said England fast bowlers will “lick their lips” at the prospect of the third Test
The huge Sardar Patel Stadium, the largest cricket venue in the world, hosts the Test
Everyone expects the spinning ball in India – and no one complained when it got square in Sri Lanka – but no one expects lumps to come out of the surface on the first day at the beautiful Sardar Patel Stadium, like in Chennai.
The key will be whether the pink SG ball and ring of LED lights around the perimeter of the roof in the 110,000-capacity arena are really conducive to exuberant swing and justify Ben Stokes’ claim that England’s fast bowlers “lick their lips” while waiting. .
There may have been some hint in what India expected from Virat Kohli’s bullish response to Stokes’ confidence. In essence, the captain of India reminded us, anything the sailors of England can do.
“I’m not worried about England’s strengths,” Kohli said. ‘We hit them at home where the ball does a lot more. If it’s a seam-friendly lane for them, it’s for us too and we have the best bowling strike in the world.
‘There are many weaknesses in the opposition, but also strengths. We are ready for whatever comes our way. ‘
Captain Virat Kohli (left), with England’s Joe Root, after the second test in Chennai
Root was more reluctant to lessen the impact of spin and the threat from Ravichandran Ashwin, but acknowledged that a brand of ball England has never used before in a rebuilt stadium where the first test takes place represents a big step into the unknown.
“I’m sure the wicket will turn at some point, but most do in Test cricket,” said Root. ‘It’s like when it turns, and will it happen from the straight or from the rough?
But the fact that our bowlers are confident and can make a big impact in India as a seam group is exciting. There may be extra sideways movement and that will work in our favor, but I don’t think it will change the way we operate as a team. ‘
So are we then facing a battle between Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav on the one hand and Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes or Stuart Broad on the other?
James Anderson gets a grip on the pink ball ahead of the day-night third week of the Test
With the added unpredictability that day-night cricket and the pink ball bring? It seems so, and it is an enticing prospect.
The last reminder of both sides of day-night Test Cricket is certainly not favorable for a high-scoring game.
England were eliminated by New Zealand for 58 in Auckland three years ago, 33 of them by Craig Overton at No. 9, when Trent Boult and Tim Southee hurled the pink ball around corners on the first morning.
And India, of course, became famous at 36 at Adelaide in December in their second innings of the first Test before Kohli went home on paternity leave and his replacement Ajinkya Rahane turned their fortunes without him to win Series 2. 1.
“Both were bizarre experiences for two quality sides,” insisted Kohli, who is lucky enough to play in this Test after his blatant display of dissent against umpire Nitin Menon in Chennai.
“With the exception of 45 minutes of bad cricket in Adelaide, we dominated that test. We are confident in the way we play the pink ball. ‘
Joe Root after being bowled by Trent Boult for a duck in the 2018 Pink Ball Test in Auckland
Root believes that double digit scores can equal the pink ball track. “These strange passages of the game have happened and collapses seem to be a trend in day-night testing,” he said.
‘You have to make sure you stop them like a battle group. I think using your first 20 balls as a batsman is essential to get used to the circumstances and realize that they can change throughout the day. ‘
An ever-rotating England could make as many as five changes to its defeated side today, after making four to a first-test win.
But Root’s tendency yesterday was to leave his pick as late as possible, in case he wakes up today and suddenly turns a field that is green most of the week into a different dustbin.
Virat Kohli walks away after being exhausted from India’s hopeless collapse in Adelaide’s day-night test on their recent Australia tour
The damage is extensive on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard when India was thrown out for 36
“We’re going to take our time,” said the England captain. “We’re going to make sure we give ourselves as much information as possible before we make that decision. The pitch has changed quite drastically in recent days.
‘There has been a little more live grass than previous wickets we’ve seen here, but it has gotten drier as the days have passed, as you might expect.
“We really need to be clear about the balance of the attack we want and see how big the dew factor can be.”
The smart money is on Jonny Bairstow replacing Dan Lawrence at number 3 and Anderson and Archer returning to get the new hopefully swinging ball.
It becomes a close call between Rory Burns and Zak Crawley at the top of the order, while Broad and Woakes appear to be competing for one place.
Zak Crawley in the nets on Monday – he will compete with Rory Burns for a spot on top of the order
Unless the pitch really changed this morning and a second spinner in Dom Bess comes into the equation.
Much than for England to think about before heading to the largest cricket ground in the world in front of a crowd of around 55,000 that Kohli hopes will help swing the series in India’s favor.
“The audience will play a big role,” he added. ‘When so many people put their energy behind you, it pushes you in the right direction and puts pressure on the opposition. I hope England is intimidated by the crowd. ‘
Intimidated or inspired – that is the question for an improving English Test team that now simply has to take their chance if they want to stay in the race for a place in the final of the World Test Championship. The stakes are high.