MOHALI, Nov 25: The deadlock broken in the most comprehensive manner, hosts India would look to do an encore by putting England through another rigorous spin test when the two teams square off in the third cricket Test starting here tomorrow.
Indian team warm up during a training session on the eve of third test against England in Mohali, on Friday.
After their 246-run win in the second Test, Virat Kohli and his boys have got the requisite confidence needed to outclass the visitors, who put up a spirited fight in the first two matches.
However, as luck would have it, Kohli will not be able to field the winning combination as Wriddhiman Saha is out with a thigh strain, ensuring that Parthiv Patel gets to play a Test match after eight long years.
Last time when Parthiv played a Test, current coach Anil Kumble was the captain while Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were very much a part of the side. India were at the receiving end of the then newly introduced technology known as Decision Review System.
The PCA Stadium track, once a paradise for speedsters which later became a bowlers’ graveyard only to undergo another transformation into a rank turner, will be the cynosure of all eyes.
A rank turner may not be on offer but the 22-yard strip that is devoid of any grass will surely help the tweakers as the game progresses. One can brace for at least another four-day show if not full five days.
As far as Kohli is concerned, the backdrop could not have been more interesting and the wild allegations of ball tampering levelled by a section of British media could surely act as a catalyst for him to do a Faf du Plessis. A du Plessis-like century will be a befitting reply to all the conspiracy theories that have been floated.
In sublime form with 337 runs under his belt, the Indian captain, on his day, can make life really difficult for the English bowlers, who are certainly feeling the effect of his blazing blade.
While Jimmy Anderson did make an impressive comeback, the absence of Stuart Broad will definitely affect England as the lanky fast bowler performed superbly despite injury during the Visakhapatnam Test match.
Add to it Zafar Ansari’s sore back has also increased England captain Alastair Cook’s worries. Ben Duckett, after a wretched run, may have to sit out making way for an impact player like Jos Buttler.
In this situation, there is every possibility that Kohli could make mincemeat of the England attack as seamer Chris Woakes and Ansari’s possible replacement, off-spinner Gareth Batty, might not have the wherewithal to stop the Indian ace.
Cheteshwar Pujara (262 runs in 2 Tests), who has shown a lot of positive intent with back-to-back centuries, will like to consolidate his position in the side with another impressive effort.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Chesteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra.
England: Alastair Cook (Captain), Haseeb Hamid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Duckett, Adil Rashid, Jake Ball, Gary Balance, Jos Buttler, Steve Finn, Chris Woakes, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Gareth Batty, Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari.
Match starts at 9:30 am. – PTI