What an interesting series this is shaping up to be! England claimed the first Test in thrilling fashion before India bounced back to level the series in the 2nd Test last week. Both of the first two games were held in Chennai, now the series heads to Ahmedabad for what will be a crucial 3rd day/night Test starting on Wednesday night (AEDT).
Ahmedabad, Wednesday 24th February, 8.00pm (AEDT)
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Ravi Ashwin, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, KL Rahul, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Shama, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur
England Squad: Joe Root (c), Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence, Dom Sibley, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes, Ollie Pope, Jofra Archer, James Anderson, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Olly Stone
India looked like a different side in the 2nd Test. On the same ground but a different wicket, the ball turned a lot more and that played right into the hands of the home side, who rested Jasprit Bumrah and opted to play three frontline spinners. Ravi Ashwin was fantastic in the match, taking a total of nine wickets across the two innings and scoring a second innings hundred to easily claim man of the match honours.
India seem to have all of the momentum at the moment, but there is one crucial factor heading into this Test that I think swings the balance of power back in favour of the English side and that is the colour of the ball. The day/night game will see the pink ball used for the 3rd Test and if history is anything to go by, the Indians are far from proving themselves against the swinging pink ball.
The manufacturer of the Indian cricket ball, SG, has publicly stated that the pink ball requires at least some grass on the wicket to be effective for the length of 90 overs, so it’s likely that we will see somewhat of an untraditional Indian pitch for this Test. Grass on the wicket and a swinging ball is music to the English pace bowlers ears. Joe Root pitched in with quality spin overs in the 2nd Test, so we will likely see the English play just one front line spinner alongside a trio of seamers from Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes.
These two teams are so much more evenly matched than the betting markets represent, with the Indians starting as short as $1.57 to win. I think the pink ball swings this game even more in favour of the touring side, so their price tag of $3.80 is really enticing, back them to win this one and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Like the value of Ajinkya Rahane to top the Indian runscorers list in the first innings. The No.5 batted extremely well against a swinging pink ball in Adelaide earlier this summer and has a great tendancy to play the ball late, right under the eyes, which is key at night when the ball is moving around. $8.00 is massive overs for the vice-captain.
Love the odds of James Anderson to be the top wicket taker for the English side in the first innings. AS we mentioned above, this new pink ball should be swinging around for the English side and there has arguably never been a better proponent of swing bowling than Anderson. He even got an old red ball on a dusty Chennai pitch talking in the 1st Test as he swung England to victory and he’ll be fired up after resting for the 2nd game.
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