Having secured a dominant win in the first test, but then been dominated in the second, England will be looking to bounce back in the third of the four tests in this tour of India. Starting at 9am GMT on Wednesday, this test is a day-nighter (D/N), at Ahmedabad. Let's see who our writing team picked this time...
England's squad has lost Moeen Ali, with him returning home for a break from the bubble. However, Mark Wood, and Jonny Bairstow are both back. The 17 players available to us (and England) are:
Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.
Out of these 17, the main points of contention are around the top order, which is looking as shaky as it did in the post-Strauss era. Debate also included whether England should play one or two spinners, and what the make up of the pace bowling line-up should be.
Rob Rush: Burns Sibley Crawley Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Woakes Leach Broad Anderson
"With this third Test being a D/N affair and a pink ball being used, England have to play to their strength and India’s relative weakness: seam bowling. In Anderson and Broad, England possess two of the greatest swing bowlers to ever grace the planet, arguably the best. These two are simply non-negotiable selections; they MUST play.
Stokes only bowled 2 overs in the second Test, implying he is carrying some sort of fitness knock. With this in mind, I pick Woakes to act as the main 'all-rounder' for Root’s side: someone who can bowl for longish spells to minimise the likely loss of Stokes. Woakes’ ability to bowl for longer than Archer, Wood and Stone, plus his far superior swing ability than the ‘fast’ trio means he gets the nod for me. Leach will carry the load as a sole spinner, with Bess still on the side-lines after being unceremoniously dropped for the last game.
In the batting department, some familiar cracks might be starting to reappear. The opening pair not able to be relied upon to see off the new ball, number three not scoring runs, adn the middle order struggling to make a noticeable impact to the score.
However, it must be taken into account that Lawrence was batting out of position in the opening two tests, plus Burns and Pope are coming off significant absences from playing cricket, so they were always going to need a readjusting period. With this in mind, and due to the relative lack of other options, I make only one change to the batting line-up; Crawley being brought straight back in at the unfortunate expense of Lawrence. Even though Lawrence was batting out of position, he showed massive frailties against the in-swinger and hasn’t really shown much of his so-called “dominance” against spin bar his debut innings against Sri Lanka. While Crawley doesn't have a score on either of the subcontinent tours, his 267 against Pakistan last summer shows he can perform at Test level, and in my opinion, anyone other than Bairstow at 3 is good enough for me."
Duke and Kookaburra: Burns Sibley Bairstow Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Bess Leach Anderson Archer
"Archer caused some obvious discomfort in Chennai so returns in place of the unfortunate Stone who impressed and could yet force his way back in. I don't believe India would let us run riot on a green seamer so a second spinner in Bess is needed; Root will have to be at his motivational best to gee up the young spinner after his public dropping. To omit Bess would by necessity call for Woakes to play otherwise our tail doesn't bear thinking about.
Burns' lack of game time in SL is hurting him at the moment, and though he needs a score soon, I will back him here. The Bairstow recall at three has been a telegraphed move for some time now and will be needed to bring some solidity to an inexperienced top three. Anderson's return for the pink ball game is also a no-brainer."
Tom: Sibley Burns Bairstow Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Woakes Archer Leach Anderson
"A number of changes from Chennai. Lawrence, Moeen, Stone and Broad drop out to make way for Bairstow, Woakes, Archer and Anderson. The selection of Bairstow will raise some eyebrows but seeing how poorly England performed against India’s spinners, I believe it a necessity to bring in an accomplished player of spin. In all likelihood, India will request a pitch with as much potential for spin as was prepared for the second game in Chennai and England could find themselves quite quickly in trouble if they do not neutralise Ashwin and Axar.
Lawrence looks quite clearly out of his depth at international level and from Crawley’s showing in Sri Lanka I don’t back him to improve on those performances when facing even better bowlers.
Anderson is a lock having seen how dangerous he can be with the pink ball. England must make full use of the evening sessions with the new ball and Anderson’s first test showing he is capable of doing the damage.
If fit, Archer plays, but without a recent fitness update, we are purely speculating*. The final change is a swap of Broad for Woakes. I worry for England’s batting without Woakes, as one of Archer, Broad or Leach will have to bat 8, which seems far too high for all of them. Woakes’ ability to swing the ball will also be vital to partner Anderson with the new ball.
*If Archer does not pass a fitness test, Broad plays in his place."
Snicked behind: Burns Sibley Crawley Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Woakes Leach Archer Anderson
"Having read the aforementioned CricViz article regarding selection this afternoon, I've made the call not to pick Bairstow. Whilst I think Crawley is a pretty dire player of spin from what we saw in Sri Lanka, Bairstow's record against the Indian pace attack is appalling and can not be ignored in a pink ball test.
I've ummed and ahhd as to how to pick the bowling attack. Woakes is there for his batting and for his ability to find any lateral movement. Archer is entrusted to bring the heat. Then, Anderson and swinging conditions: name a more iconic duo.
This is harsh on Wood, but I think Archer is a slightly better bowler. That said, if there's any concerns over his fitness, I'd back Wood to rediscover his terrifying form from South Africa last year"
David Wyatt-Hupton: Burns Sibley Bairstow Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Woakes Bess Archer Anderson
"I'm going with one spinner, with Root able to turn his arm over as well. I want to expand the batting a little bit with Woakes, and with it being a D/N test, I think he'll be useful with the ball. Bairstow has to come back in for me which I never thought I'd say, but he's batting well this winter and Lawrence has struggled slightly. Crawley would be disappointed to miss out, and I was tempted to play him ahead of Bairstow but with Jonny's IPL experience, and history of playing in India, I want his experience in there.
Anderson is well rested and the conditions should suit him perfectly and I've got Bess in ahead of Leach. Bess is a decent batsman, and although he's been lucky to get the wickets he has, I'd rather have a lucky bowler who takes scalps than one that bowls a good line and ends up with nothing in the wicket column."
Samuel Bruning: Sibley Burns Crawley Root (c) Stokes Pope Foakes (wk) Leach Broad Archer Anderson
"Sadly, I had no clue what to do for this test! Batting wise, Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Lawrence and Bairstow are fighting for three spots. I feel somewhat confident with Sibley, so he's first down on the team sheet.
Both Crawley and Burns have played two tests in the subcontinent, and looked pretty rubbish. However, I don't want Bairstow playing the pink ball (something I decided before the CricViz article went up), and nor do I think Lawrence has done enough to keep his spot. So, Burns and Crawley are both lucky to get a third test, but they both desperately need runs, or else Bairstow will return for the fourth and final test.
Bowling wise, I wanted two spinners, and three quicks, plus Stokes. Obviously, this wasn't possible. So, I take the risk of playing just the one spinner in Leach, although I would have preferred Moeen. Anderson and Archer return, with Stone, who bowled very well, making way, as I simply think other bowlers will be better with the pink ball, which is no slight to Stone. I retain Broad, as despite having an unnoticeable game last week, I want his pink ball skills this time round.
It does leave a very long tail, but I'd rather pick an attack to get 20 wickets, than 20 runs. But with the concerns over the top three, and Pope struggling to find form, once again, there is a lot riding on Joe Root getting more big runs. If he doesn't, 2-1 India looks inevitable."
So, there you have it. Another #InsideEdgePicks, with the usual controversy!
Which XI do you think best? And who would you pick? Let us know by tweeting @InsideEdgeCrick, and be sure to follow as well, to stay up to date with England's progress in India, and all other cricket news.
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