India vs England: Third Test Preview

England will look to get back on track when they face India in the day/night Test in Ahmedabad, the third match of the series.

After losing the toss, Joe Root's men produced a poor performance on a spinning pitch in Chennai. Rohit Sharma took the game away from the visitors on day one with a brilliant 161, which guided India to an above-par total of 329. England then collapsed completely in their first-innings, with Ben Foakes' unbeaten 42 the only score of not in a total of 134.

From then on, the game was virtually done. India put on another 286 in their second-innings, thanks largely to a brilliant century from Ravichandran Ashwin and 62 from skipper Virat Kohli. England again failed to produce a substantial innings, with only a few late hitting from Moeen Ali boosting the total up to 164. It was a crushing defeat by 317 runs.

Despite many discussions about the pitch in Chennai, the challenge for England now is to put such a poor display behind them and focus on producing the disciplined, patient batting that was a feature in them going 1-0 up in the series and winning six away Tests in a row.

Root has been excellent in the series so far (297 runs at 74.25), backing up his outstanding performances in Sri Lanka, but the rest of the batting line-up is struggling. Dom Sibley (87) and Ben Stokes (82) contributed well in the first Test, but produced two low scores in the second. More of a concern, however, is the form of Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, and Ollie Pope, who have made just 207 runs in 12 innings between them in the first two matches. England will need more from them if they are to win this series.

India, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the return to form of Rohit, while Kohli, Anjinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, and Shubman Gill have also made positive scores with the bat. Ashwin looks in dangerous form too, both with bat and ball and Axar Patel enjoyed an excellent debut, taking 7-100 with accurate, consistent bowling.

The prospect of more seam movement in day/night conditions will excite England's seamers and it is a chance for the visitors to land another blow in the series. However, India now have the momentum and will look to continue their dominance at home in Tests.

Ahmedabad's 110,000 seater stadium is set for an exciting third Test match.

Rob Rush (@robrush99)

After England were abruptly brought back down to Earth following the second Test, all eyes now turn to the potential team selection ahead of this day/night encounter. With the pink ball in use and both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad being fit and available for selection, you'd have to imagine that they are the first names on the team sheet.

The rest of the bowlers depend on the fitness of Ben Stokes and if he is able to go through any lengthy spells of bowling. If he isn't capable, Chris Woakes is in with a shout of playing as another all-rounder, otherwise it looks likely that one of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood or Olly Stone will get the final pace bowling spot. Jack Leach looks almost certain to carry the load as a lone spinner, following Dom Bess’s “drop” from the side, with Joe Root acting as backup.

In terms of the batting, there is a big debate over who is picked at number 3, with Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence all fighting it out for that spot. With YJB perceived to be the strongest player of spin out of the trio, he may be in the lead for that no.3 slot.

Elsewhere, due to the serious lack of depth in terms of batters, with only James Bracey in the reserves, the remainder of the batting lineup should remain the same. Ben Foakes will be looking to back up his amazing performance behind the stumps with an improved batting display, as he looks to force his way into the team permanently when Jos Buttler returns.

Watch Out For:

Virat Kohli

Despite not being at his best, Indian skipper Kohli has still managed to contribute in the series so far, with excellent knocks in the second innings. What has been his forte, however, has been big first-innings runs that shape Test matches, especially against England. However, he has missed out on both occasions so far.

Ben Foakes

After making such an impressive start to his Test career, Foakes may have had every right to feel aggrieved after not playing a Test for nearly two years. He returned to the side in Chennai after Jos Buttler's departure and looked like he had never been away, making an impressive unbeaten 42 on a spinning track in the first innings, along with consistently excellent glovework behind the stumps. Should he continue to impress for the rest of the series, Foakes will put himself into serious contention of being a regular in the Test side.

India Team News:

India are unlikely to make many changes, which the top seven starting to hit come form. Axar Patel impressed in the second innings and should keep his place as the second spinner. The only decision will be around including a third seamer at the expense of Washinton Sundar, given the prospect of more movement in day/night conditions.

Likely XI:

R. Sharma, S. Gill, C. Pujara, V. Kohli ©, A. Rahane, R. Pant (wk), R. Ashwin, W. Sundar, I. Sharma, S. Nadeem/K. Yadav/A. Patel, J. Bumrah.

England Team News:

Zak Crawley has recovered from his wrist injury and is expected battle it out with Jonny Bairstow for the No. 3 spot, replacing Dan Lawrence, who has struggled in the series so far. Rory Burns and Ollie Pope, under pressure after a run of low scores, will have another chance to get some much-needed runs. Moeen Ali has gone home, so England will have a decision whether to bring back Dom Bess as the second spinner, or go with another seamer. With conditions thought to be more helpful for seamers in Ahmedabad, James Anderson and Jofra Archer are likely to return to the attack.

Likely XI:

R. Burns, D. Sibley, Z.Crawley/J. Bairstow, J. Root ©, B. Stokes, O. Pope, B. Foakes (wk), D. Bess/S. Broad, J. Archer, J. Leach, J. Anderson.


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